Small Towns: Bob the Barber keeps on cutting
HORTONVILLE, Wis. (WBAY) - A Fox Valley man estimates he’s given more than 100,000 haircuts since first becoming a barber. And at the age of 91, he just opened a new shop in Hortonville.
This week in Small Towns, we pay a visit to Bob’s Old Fashioned Barber Shop.
Give Bob Rohloff a customer in his barber chair and some clippers in his hand, and there’s no place he’d rather be.
“I tried to retire once, when I was in Arizona, it was about a month or so and I went and got a haircut and my wife, she said, ‘you got a haircut,’ and I said, ‘yes I got a haircut, but I’m going to work on Monday, too,’ she said, ‘are you out of your mind, we’re out here to be retired,’ I said, I can’t,” says Bob with a chuckle.
Growing up in Black Creek, Bob received his haircuts as a boy from his dad, who owned a barbershop for 55 years.
By the time Bob was 16, he was following in his father’s footsteps.
“I served my apprenticeship through him, started in 1948, I was in high school,” recalls Bob.
Three years later, Bob had his license, and worked with his dad for more than 15 years.
At the age of 35, he bought a barbershop in Appleton.
“At the old Hahn’s Bowling Alley building called Appleton Barbershop, there for about 11 years, sold that to a young lady from Michigan and we went out to Arizona,” explains Bob.
After working at a barbershop there for a while, and with retirement out of the question, Bob bought his own shop in Sun City.
18 years in Arizona eventually proved to be enough, and Bob and his wife moved back to the Fox Cities. But he couldn’t trim barbering from his blood, and in 2012, Bob stopped by Moira Schmike’s shop in Hortonville.
“He came into the shop that one day and I thought he was in for a haircut, but he was in for a job, so I got him hired right away,” says Moira with laughter.
For the next ten years, Bob kept at it, reaching milestone birthdays, and celebrating them by cutting hair. He also kept a secret thought in the back of his mind.
“I said to myself if I ever get the chance, because I’ve always had my own shop, the right combination comes along, I will start a shop yet, I didn’t tell my family or nothing because I knew they wouldn’t agree,” says Bob.
This past spring, Bob met Mark Karweick, a barber in Escanaba looking to return to the Fox Valley.
Within an hour after meeting, they made a deal, shook hands, and a few months later, opened Bob’s Old Fashioned Barber Shop on Main Street.
“He came back down with the barber chairs and some equipment, and we opened shop,” explains Bob.
“Always since I got out of barber school I wanted to work with an established barber, an older barber, kind of pick some hints, know what to do and we’ve been doing that, even back and forth, he’s asked me, well how do you do this and I’m like, um well,” says Mark with a chuckle.
Moira, who closed her shop and joined the crew, is amazed at Bob’s continued passion and longevity.
“Oh, I’ll never make it to 91 that’s for sure,” says Moira.
Since opening in early June, Bob’s shop has become a hit.
“We have a tremendous amount of new customers, one of the things I did say is that I have a good senior trade, and we have a senior price and I said to a lot of my seniors that as long as I’m working I’m going to keep those prices, we charge 12 bucks for a senior haircut and $14 for an adult, and it’s been good,” says Bob.
After all these years, Bob says he enjoys cutting hair more than ever. But his greatest joy remains the interaction with his customers.
“Visiting and meeting new customers and I get bored sitting in my home, and I enjoy the two or three days I’m over here, it’s fun, sometimes I sit around here, I let Mark work and I just visit when they come in you know,” says Bob.
And now that he’s just started a business, just how long does Bob plan to stick around?
“I like what you just said, I’m just starting, I have no set time, as far as standing here and cutting hair, that doesn’t bother me and I don’t have any arthritis, and you know, so why not work, I just feel good working,” says Bob with a smile.
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