Laurie Shipp had a vision of turning her tiny barber shop into something more.
Now, after about 17 years, her 500-square-foot, three-chair barber shop has changed names, expanded more than five times in size, added services and employees.
On April 15, the Barber Shop closed and on May 28, the Barber Shop Man Cave was born.
Mrs. Shipp, 45, has been cutting hair for 24 years, and since she bought the business in 2004, she has had a vision in the back of her mind to turn into something much larger. When the new owners of Olde English Village began renovating the center last year, she saw it as a perfect opportunity.
“I jumped out there with a lot of faith and prayers,” she said.
The Barber Shop Man Cave is one of several businesses that have gotten a makeover since Fort Worth-based Woodcrest Capital LLC, bought the property and began renovations in June 2012. A handful of new businesses have or are planning to set up shop there.
Mrs. Shipp was about 21 when she got into the hair business. Her husband of 27 years, Steve, accidently caught his hair on fire and was in desperate need of a trim. Once Mrs. Shipp took out the scissors, she said, “Hey I can do that, and I ended up in school.”
She said it always was her goal to own a barber shop.
The Barber Shop has been in business since 1956, and it was the first tenant of Olde English Village when it opened in 1975, Mrs. Shipp said. The Barber Shop, which was “a little hole in the wall,” only offered haircuts and Mrs. Shipp was its only employee, she said. It is now 2,300 square feet with a handful of employees.
They offer haircuts and shaves, manicures and pedicures, massages and shoe shines, as well as a free beverage with the service. Leo Johnson, who shined shoes for Penick & Chance in Bergfeld Center until it closed last year, performs his craft for Mrs. Shipp’s customers. The shop’s Man Cave offers customers a place to play pool, poker, checkers, chess or other games or watch sports on its flat-screen TVs.
“There’s not a place for men to go like this. … A place a man can go and relax,” Mrs. Shipp said. “You just want a man to feel special, too.”
Shannon Smith, a pharmaceutical sales rep and 18-year customer of Mrs. Shipp’s, came in for a haircut at the new and improved shop on Tuesday — his 44th birthday. He said he shaved his head in anticipation of his barber shop closing for more than a month and was finally in need of a cut.
“I had to wait on her,” he said of Mrs. Shipp. “I wasn’t going to cheat on her. … I wouldn’t go anywhere else.”
Smith said he thought the business’ new look was “very impressive.”
Mrs. Shipp said everybody has loved the changes to her business. She has retained her longtime customers, but also sees several new faces every day.
“It’s building,” she said. “As the center fills up, it will help everyone in here.”
She said it has been a slow construction project, but it looks better than before.
“I think when it gets done, it’s going to be a fantastic center,” she said.
Paulina Anaab opened Zoe Afric Mart on June 14 in Olde English Village. The business offers predominantly African food. The shop also sells foods from across the world, including Ghana yams, cassava leaves, yam flour, plantain chips, goat meat, bitter leaves, fufu flower, ground egusi (melon seeds), dried fish, honey beans and canned egg plant. Zoe Afric Mart also sells a small assortment of beauty supplies, clothes, shoes, purses and jewelry.
Jim Ryffel, 54, owner and president of Woodcrest Capital LLC, a Fort Worth-based real estate development company that bought the shopping center in 2011, said businesses that plan to open in Olde English Village include Bethesda’s resale clothing store, an Asian restaurant, New Dimensions Rehab and a nail salon. Ryffell said they expect to have several restaurants in the center, and they also expect a lot of “neighborhood convenience” stores, such as nail and hair salons and spas.
Dee Kennel, 43, has doubled the size of her business, RDA Pro Mart, during the center’s renovations. The business services licensed professionals in the salon industry.
The late Ken Moore and his wife Ann Moore opened the distributorship in Longview in 1986. Mrs. Kennel married one of their sons, the late Kevin Moore, in 1990 and has worked for the company since. She started out filling orders and making deliveries but now “I do everything, but the bookkeeping,” she said.
During the past few months, as Mrs. Moore is reaching retirement, Ms. Kennel has worked to become the owner of the business. After 26 years, she officially became the owner of RDA Pro Mart in Longview and Tyler on Monday.
She said they originally opened a franchise in Olde English Village 11 years ago, but during the construction relocated to a space twice the size, reopening April 1. The new 4,000-square-foot building includes a classroom for education and training for salon professionals. The company also sells products wholesale to salons, including professional hair care products, as well as nail and tanning products.
Ms. Kennel said she likes the location of Olde English Village and the ease of being able to get to it from the converging roads. She said the salon market is strong in Tyler, and the economy here is consistent.
Mattress HQ, formerly Affordable Mattress Outlet, has been in Olde English Village for six years and changed its name after receiving new owners and management about a year ago, Manager Kaihl Stojanik said.
“It’s taking too long,” Stojanik said of the construction at Olde English Village. But “I think it will be a lot better than what it was.”
He said the business has continued to see a decent amount of traffic because the construction turns a lot of heads.
A&B Alterations and Planned Parenthood have remained in the center during the construction, while Heartland Ham and Sprint have closed.