Fri, Mar 16, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Sixty years do not cut it for Yunlin old-style barbers

By Cheng Hsu-kai and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Barbers Yang Tsung-chi, right, and Lin Chun-te pose at their Yi Pin Shih Barber Shop in Yunlin County’s Douliou City on Sunday.

Photo: Cheng Hsu-kai, Taipei Times

“Cutting hair has already become the most important part of our lives,” said barbershop owners Yang Tsung-chi (楊聰期) and Lin Chun-te (林俊德), who run the Yi Pin Shih Barber Shop (沂賓士理髮廳) in Yunlin County’s Douliou City (斗六).

The business partners, who are both to turn 77 years old this year, said they opened the shop together 48 years ago and have never argued with each other.

At the end of each day, they divide their income equally, Yang said, adding that they are closer than biological brothers.

Yang became an apprentice at a barber shop when he was 15 years old, he said, adding that except on Sundays, he still drives from Yunlin’s Gukeng Township (古坑) to Douliou every day to cut his customers’ hair.

Lin said he began learning how to cut hair when he was 13.

Many customers still travel to their barber shop in Douliou each month to have their hair cut, even after moving to other townships, Yang and Lin said, adding that heir oldest customer is a retired village warden from Gukeng’s Jhanghu Village (樟湖).

He is turning 95 this year and every two months he travels to Douliou by bus, buys goods in the city and gets his hair cut, they said, adding that his trips take four to five hours.

He became a customer more than 20 years ago, Lin said, adding that apart from being accustomed to their craftsmanship, he also enjoys the old-fashioned vibe at the barber shop.

Some customers even visit the store just to drink tea and chat, Yang and Lin said.

“Others have families, all four generations of which will have their hair styled by us,” they added.

The two barbers said they have also volunteered to style disadvantaged groups’ hair for free.

The two barbers’ craftsmanship cannot be found anywhere else, customer Yang Min-chieh (楊閔捷), 81, said, adding that he became friends with the two a long time ago.

Some of the tools that can still be found at Yang Tsung-chi and Lin’s barber shop include a manual clipper, a leather strop and a steaming machine.

Using a manual clipper allows for more precision, Yang Tsung-chi said, adding that he also has a Zwilling J. A. Henckels razor he has been using for more than 50 years.

Sharpening blades against a leather strop reduces the risk of hurting or cutting the skin, Yang Tsung-chi and Lin said.

Barber shops used to use steaming machines to sterilize towels, they said, adding that they now use more modern equipment, but have kept the steaming machine in the store as a decoration.

Cutting hair is what makes them happy and they will continue their business as long as they still have the energy, the barbers said.

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