Dunedin barber Michael Shanks in his shop yesterday. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Having clocked up three decades in his own barber shop,
Michael Shanks says he will not be retiring any time soon.
The 63-year-old only realised the milestone when the lease
for the premises of his business, Michael Shanks Hair Design
for Men, came due for renewal this month. Aside from a ''feed
of oysters'' at Best Cafe, he did not mark the anniversary,
on March 21.
Chatting to the Otago Daily Times while cutting hair,
he said he learnt his trade from the ''godfather'' of Dunedin
barbers, Frank Restieaux.
He worked as a barber for about 10 years before owning the
business. In some ways, little had changed. The most popular
men's haircut, known as the ''fade'', was essentially just
the old short, back, and sides.
The Exchange was much quieter than in the mid 1980s -
although there were encouraging recent signs of a return of
office workers. When he started, he was close to Whitcoulls,
then the site of the busiest foot traffic in Dunedin. The
area's importance had faded, which was not good for the
retail side of his business, but had not affected
hair-cutting, other than making parking easier for clients.
His clients were from all walks of life, and liked to talk.
As a ''rugby fanatic'' and stadium supporter, it was pleasing
the debate was ''finally starting to stutter out of focus,
thank God'', as detractors gradually accepted the stadium was
here to stay.
The city-wide debate over cycle lanes was now a popular
topic, while national politics would be on the radar all year
because of the general election.
He enjoyed the contact with people, and was ''nowhere near
ready'' for retirement.