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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Last week a Wilmington man passed a major milestone: 50 years doing the same job in the same place.

Harry Pope said he became a barber because his father told him people will always need a haircut. But all these years later he said time is trimming his profession.

Every day except Wednesdays and Sundays, Harry Pope unlocks the doors at his Sunset Barber Shop and waits for customers to trickle in.

"My biggest competition now is death. I may about outlive my customers,” Pope said. “When you read the obituaries every morning, that’s the first thing I look at. You look in there and you see another customer has passed on."

But the loyal still come in for a trim, as they have for 50 years. Pope bought everything in his shop on April 7, 1959, for $1,000.

A lot has changed since he graduated from barber college and started cutting hair in 1953. The Coastline Railroad and his customers that worked for it are long gone. The price for a haircut has jumped from 85 cents to $10. And the color of the hair he cuts matches his.

"Who wants an old, grey-headed man to cut their hair?" Pope asked. "Another old, grey-haired man, I guess."

Pope said the barber business started receding as men’s hair got longer; their haircuts became less frequent, and boys started going to the salon with their moms.

"People want jobs that have benefits, and barbers work on commission. They don’t work on salary," Pope said.

Still, he likes what he does, and said the best thing is his customers. But he said making it as a barber requires adapting to change, having the right personality and the right conversation.

"When you’re a barber, you’ve got to be able to talk anything they want to talk. And they say you’re not supposed to argue with your customers, but I do some times, and that’s not good," Pope said.

The work must be good, because Pope said he has no plans to retire.

"I enjoy being around people, and if I retired, I’d be bored to death," he said.

Pope said he still has one customer left from the beginning whose hair he’s been cutting since 1953. He said he’s cut hair at his Carolina Beach Road Shop for four generations of some families.

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4 Comments on "Wilmington man cuts his way through a major milestone"

2015 years 8 months ago

With all the customers Harry has I love the fact that I can go into his shop and he doesn’t even ask how I want it because he remembers from the last time I was in there. I’ve only been going to Harry for 2-3 years now and I plan to keep going for as long as he stays open. Just avoid the busy times…otherwise you can walk in and sit right down in the chair.

Guest David Ray James
2015 years 8 months ago

Congratulations Mr.Pope and I hope you are to be open a good while longer. After cutting my hair for thirty or more years, it is an honor to drive to you from Ivanhoe for your services.

2015 years 8 months ago

My father started going when he was younger, and then he started taking me. So im not sure how long my father has been going but it has been 25 years for me and many more.

“I would Know”
ubi dubium ibi libertas
“where [there is] doubt, there [is] freedom”

2015 years 8 months ago

Mr. Pope cut my hair when I lived in Sunset Park.That was in the 50’s-eary 70’s. I wish him the best. He used to grow some of the best tomatoes.


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