Northern Michigan in Focus: Lex’s Barber Shop
For some, a haircut is a haircut. For others, it’s a standing appointment with a friend, someone who has been there for the long and the short of it, in hair and in life.
In this week’s Northern Michigan in Focus, Corey Adkins and Michelle Dunaway introduce us to a man who is not only a barber, he’s a cut up.
“Oh, we have a lot of fun here.”
There’s a place down Arlington Street in Sault Ste. Marie that has served the community for over 45 years.
There’s no name on the window, but you’ll know it by its original barber pole. It still works.
But sometimes, when you walk inside you don’t know what you’re going to get.
“Forty-four years and I haven’t given a good haircut yet,” says Lex Walsh.
Lex was looking for a job more than four decades ago after the Poe Lock was built.
“And it came to an end, so this place was available so I just came in and bought it,” explains Lex.
Right there, the jokes began.
“I never did pay the guy, but I got it,” jokes Lex.
His humor helped him build his client base, and maybe some are a little needy?
“I’ve tried to quit on a number of times, but they come down to my house and get me and bring me here,” says Lex.
Long-time customer Paul Coutant adds, “Even once this winter, I went and picked him up because I needed a haircut and he said, ‘Well, how am I going to get in there?’ he said. I said, ‘I’ll come pick you up.’ So, I came picked him up.”
With joke after joke…
“They’ve always liked it well enough to pay me, but sometimes you get the door open and they’re gone,” says Lex. “They’re getting to trust me now, so they come in on their own.”
These guys will give it right back to him
“I come in here and get an oil change, then I come back in 30 days and get another oil change. Of course, I don’t know why he charges me,” says Paul.
There’s so much more to Lex and these guys than a place to get a haircut.
“I look forward to coming in and shooting the breeze and that sort of thing. I think that’s what most people come in for is the conversation, because it’s not all serious and it’s fun to sit there and listen to him. He’s been here quite a few years,” explains Paul.
Speaking of a few years, let’s get back to that barber pole.
“If you look real close at it, there’s a plunger on the top of it. We’ve kept it going for all these years,” says Michele Malmburg, Lex’s daughter.
Lex adds, “I had to waterproof it so I put that plunger on top of it the toilet plunger. We got a lot of comments. It works like a charm. It was like it was manufactured for that.”
Lex is looking at 83 on his next birthday, but he’s still having as much fun as he was 44 years ago.
“If he wasn’t doing this he’d miss just talking to people, there’s no question about that,” explains Paul.
“I think I have more fun than anyone person deserves,” says Lex.