Hair for the foreseeable the future

Dunedin barber Michael Shanks in his shop yesterday. Photo by Craig Baxter.
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.


Add a Comment