Digging Deeper: Barbershops in Eau Claire - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Digging Deeper: Barbershops in Eau Claire


Eau Claire (WQOW) - For nearly six decades, some barbershops in Eau Claire have been sharpening their shears with a touch of tradition.

News 18 spoke with the owners of Govin's Barber Salon and Roy's Barbershop. Jennifer Miller, the owner of Govin's, said she took over the family business seven years ago, but Govin's has been in business since the early 1960s.

Cory Cooper, the owner of Roy's Barbershop on Water Street, said although barbering is becoming a dying art, his passion for perfecting a tailored hair cut hasn't.

"It's always something different. You don't always have the same thing back to back," he said. "When it turns into a job, that's when I'm going to quit."

While there aren't many barbershops left in Eau Claire, Miller said more people are becoming interested in the shops and their services. "Every hair cut is perfected like it was back then," she said. "It's kind of like home cooking. You know, we do it all by hand."

Taking a seat in the barber's chair has been a ritual for the regulars, especially those who have frequented the barbershops for 20 to 50 years.

Chad Smith, of Lake Hallie, said he's been coming to Govin's for 20 years and can trust the barbers to get a nicely done flat top while enjoying a nice conversation. "We talk about everything under the sun, and this is kind of like a safe haven for me to come and just be," he said.

Tom Miller, of Eau Claire, said he's been a loyal patron of Govin's for 50 years. "I come in actually very routinely -- every three weeks, and Jenny's cut my hair for years, and she just cuts it the same way."

No matter your preference, whether it be long or short hair, or shaved, the regrowth of your mane keeps the barbers sharp on their skills and their tradition of keeping family as the focus of their business.

When you get a haircut, how do your stylist's shears stay sharp? One local man has been keeping them in tip-top shape.

It may look like a mini van on the outside, but the inside is actually busting with a successful business on four wheels. Steve Swope, of rural Stanley, started his shear sharpening business inside the van in 2009. His office consists of an oak stump that serves as his workspace, a desk with all of his tools and several metal shearing machines.

Swope said for all the equipment he has to use, setting up shop inside the hair salons and barbershops isn't worth the work. "What I was finding was I would stop in and I would -- they'd just have a need for just one or two scissor sharpenings," Swope said. "I was taking more time, and it was a lot of work -- taking this thing in and out, setting it up and tearing it down."

Currently, Swope sharpens and polishes shears for about 3,000 barbers and hairdressers across western Wisconsin. He said his van is on the road every day. So far, it's racked up more than 243,600 miles!

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