Historical barbershop stands the test of time

Photo+by+Mia+Ford.+Joe+Shirley%2C+owner+of+the+Bethel+Road+Barber+Shop%2C+works+his+magic+on+his+regular+customer.+Shirley+runs+a+simple+shop+and+strives+to+provide+his+customers+with+the+best+service+possible.

Photo by Mia Ford. Joe Shirley, owner of the Bethel Road Barber Shop, works his magic on his regular customer. Shirley runs a simple shop and strives to provide his customers with the best service possible.

Photo by Mia Ford. Joe Shirley, owner of the Bethel Road Barber Shop, works his magic on his regular customer. Shirley runs a simple shop and strives to provide his customers with the best service possible.

By Nikki Dabney

Staff Writer

A red and white helical striped pole is the iconic symbol of a barbershop. Everyone in Coppell has seen this pole beside the quaint white shop on the corner of South Coppell Road and Bethel Road, but few know the man behind the shears.

Joe Shirley has been owner of the Bethel Road Barber Shop shop since 1997, when he purchased it from the family of the original owner, Floyd Harwell, after Harwell’s widow passed away. Harwell resided in the building that is now the Home Décor store next door to the shop. He ran a barbering business out of his home until he decided to have the current building moved in after WWII.

One would not expect to find Shirley working at a barbershop; as a physicist and engineer, he is clearly overqualified. Shirley was always interested in haircuts, but it was not until the mobile oil company he was working for geared up for a big lay off that he reevaluated his career direction. After chatting about the lay off, Shirley’s barber at the time advised him to get his barbering license. In 1992, he volunteered for his company’s lay off and attended barber school on Saturdays.

“I know he’s been here a long time. I’ve been here since 1990,”owner of the Coppell Deli across the street Jay Khorromi said. “I know he has a good reputation.”

After owning the shop for 15 years, one would expect Shirley to renovate and expand, but he has worked to keep it as close to the original as possible and does not plan to change it. In fact, the shop still has the same cabinets and the same mirror as it did in the 1950s.

“It is historic and it works fine just the way it is,” Shirley said. “It’s functional for what I need. Two chairs are perfect.”

Shirley seems unfazed by the current construction of Old Town Coppell. Although it has caused some drivers to take a different route and, therefore, slowed down business, Shirley remains optimistic.

“I think they’ve done a nice job on the road and at keeping traffic moving,” Shirley said. “It will be better in the long run.”

The barber’s pole draws in a hodge-podge of customers. Shirley has regular customers, but he has a lot of walk-ins. The shop’s website and out-of-towners’ GPS lands people at Shirley’s steps.

“I was house sitting in Coppell and the shop was down the street. I decided to stop by and have been coming off and on since,” customer Nick McMackan said. “He’s usually not jam packed so I can get in right after work and he gave me his cellphone number in case I need him to stay late.”

The walk-ins only policy contributes to the shop’s mom-and-pop feel. There is a notebook paper pinned to the wall where customers can sign up on the waitlist. That way they can leave and come back if there is a wait.

“I don’t like feeling pressure to rush and people can go mow their lawn and come back if they need to,” Shirley said.

Shirley works to offer high quality service and make his customers look and feel good. He enjoys visiting with people and giving them tips and suggestions.

“I keep coming back because he hasn’t screwed up. And he’s the only barber I know who uses a straight blade, which keeps the hair off my neck longer,” McMackan said.

The Bethel Road barbershop has been around for a long time and Shirley will continue to add his flavor, seeing as he does not plan to retire. This building is proof that history to be treasured is right around the corner- literally. They just have to look for it.