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More than just a haircut

Barber Robert Long

Barber Robert Long
PUAKEA OLAISHA ANDERSON PHOTOS

Barber shop nurtures neighborhood

By Puakea Olaisha Anderson
Special to the Michigan Citizen

DETROIT — Long says his father had the reputation of ‘giving it to you straight.’ He was a teacher and some of the moral principles he taught the men and women of the neighborhood was how to give a proper handshake, how to look people in their eyes when they are speaking, and how to groom.

“He always wore dress shoes,” says one long time patron and friend, Michael. He was firm, but fair.”

Mr. Grady, who was known as the Mayor of Grandriver was devoted to his business and the community. He was loved by all.

Long took over the barbershop when his father passed in 2005 and has been cutting hair since 1990.

He decided to make it a career when his father passed away.

“Its my job to make your day. What I love most about this job is the people,” said Long. GNC gives back to the community with free haircuts, magic shows, basketball tournaments in the summer, food give a ways, and bikes in partnership with All For One non-profit organization. Long is certain that his father’s legacy lives on. Long said, “ My father cut everyone’s hair that grew up in this neighborhood and that is the reason why the people still come here. I just continued what my father started, I didn’t change anything but the ambiance.” Long believes that black people has sold out and there is not enough black owned businesses in Detroit. “We need more black owned businesses and everyone should give back, said Long. Its noted that a barbershop in the black neighborhood is somewhat like a sanctuary. It’s the only place you can go and talk about everything. We even play chess in here.” The neighborhood is very receptive to the barbershop and the respect and love in the shop is really strong. The patrons really appreciate the service and support that this shop gives. “Sometime you could come up in here and you wouldn’t have to have money and get your hair cut. Grady went out his way for a lot of people and guys in the hood. I was guaranteed a good look every weekend. You could have a bad day at home and come down here, people talking about the game or golf and walking in here felt like walking in a sunset,” says Dwight a patron of 40 years. With four barbers and over 40 years of history the shop experienced a fire. The upstairs loft was destroyed and Long had to move most of his possessions downstairs where the shop is. Thankfully the shop is still open and the neighborhood cared enough to call the fire department, before the fire escalated downstairs inside the barbershop. Smoke damage appeared in the shop, but enough to close the doors. The Loft needs to be restored so that Long can have his home back.

For more information contact Robert Long at 313.828.0439.

 

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