After more than a half century, Art’s Barber Shop in Oswego to close
By Erika Wurst firstname.lastname@example.org August 19, 2013 8:58AM
Henry Wimmer, of Aurora, gets his hair cut on Friday by Jim Mayer at Art's Barber Shop in Downtown Oswego. The shop will close at the end of the month, following 54 years of business. Mayer took over the company from his father, Art, after he passed away.
Updated: September 21, 2013 6:11AM
“You learn a lot in a barber shop,” Jim Mayer said through a smile on Friday morning as he pulled out his razor.
From his position behind the barber chair, Mayer, 58, has made enough memories to last a lifetime.
It is here where local men solve world problems, gather to gossip, or come to relax while the wives are out shopping.
“You never know what you’re going to hear, or who is going to be there,” said 81-year-old Henry Wimmer, of Aurora. “You find out who died, who went on vacation...”
For 54 years, locals have been stopping by Art’s Barber Shop on Main Street for a cut they can always count on. By this month’s end, that longstanding tradition will come to an end.
Mayer, the son of the shop’s namesake, will be closing the shop’s doors for good as he and his wife move out of state.
Mayer, who began cutting hair just three days out of high school, is the last of a long line of barbers in the family. His grandfather, father and uncles all owned shops at one point or another throughout the area.
That is no longer the case. These day, “I’m it,” Mayer said. “None of my cousins do this.”
When his father passed away 19 years ago, the shop became Mayer’s responsibility, and while he hates to say goodbye, he is excited for his new adventure.
“I think (dad) would be really happy,” Mayer said about how his father would likely feel if he were still around. “Mom and dad always said to do what you want to do.”
The lifelong clientele, however, are having mixed feelings.
“You mean my wife has to start cutting my hair again?” Yorkville resident Roger Melhouse said as he flipped through a newspaper Friday morning while waiting for his turn in the chair.
“My car won’t know where else to go,” Wimmer said in anticipation of his next cut.
Although a salon sits open right across the street from Art’s, the men profess it’s just not the same.
“The ambience is nice, and the people are friendly,” said Paul Kulick, of Oswego, who has been frequenting Art’s since 1989. “I really hope he stays.”
But, Mayer’s plans are booked. He and his wife will move to Oklahoma, where Mayer will work at a local university. Tentative talks have been had, however, about someone taking over the quaint downtown shop.
The business will lose its name, but Mayer said it is important for his clients to have a new barber to fall back on.
“It’s like going to the same doctor or dentist year after year,” he said of the customer’s allegiance. “Male barbers are hard to find.”
And, so are places like Art’s, which holds decades of memories for residents.
“It has been a lot of fun,” Mayer said. “The people here are great.”