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Gregg's Barbershop Marks 100 Years In Shaw

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Gregg's Barbershop has been a long-time institution in Shaw, serving the neighborhood for more than 100 years.
Emily Berman/WAMU
Gregg's Barbershop has been a long-time institution in Shaw, serving the neighborhood for more than 100 years.
The homemade price list at Gregg's Barbershop.

Gregg's Barbershop sits on one of the few blocks off Florida Avenue that's not under construction. All around it, there are shiny new facades, signs for newly-built banks and drug stores. Gregg's has bars over the windows and a beat up old sign (no one actually know who Gregg is), but what the shop lacks in sophistication, it makes up in history.

Owner Frank Love, 79, moved from South Carolina to the District to work in D.C. in 1961, and has been at Gregg's ever since. He works right in the middle of the shop, in one of six mint-green barber chairs that look like they were lifted from the Smithsonian.

A sign homemade by Frank Love's wife lists the prices of each available service. Until this past July, a standard haircut cost $12. Customers reported other shops in the U Street Corridor were asking for $30 a haircut, so Love decided to up his price. Now he charges $14.

Gennaro Eallard works the chair next to Love. He used to work in his father's barbershop just down 7th Street. That barbershop was leveled and turned into condos. He stays in the barbering business because, as he puts it, you're always in demand.

"I don't care how bad you're doing, you gonna get your haircut. I don't know how [people] find the money, I'm just glad they do," he says with a chuckle.

From his seat in Love's barber chair, Ron Dixon has been looking out these front windows onto a neighborhood that's changed tremendously over the 40 years he's been a customer. This used to be his neighborhood barbershop, but Dixon moved away in the late 70s, when drugs began to take hold of the area.

"But that doesn't stop me from coming back," Dixon says. "Old friends never change. And I do consider this old man standing behind me a friend for years."

With that, Dixon extends his arm up , pointing to a line of paper clippings lining the shop's walls. They're all obituaries and photos of neighbors, customers or former barbers who have passed away. 

"When you look on the wall and see the people who've passed...when you have a true friend you try to stick by them," he says. "But [Love] doesn't give me any reduction in price. I'm still waiting for that!"

[Music: "Come On Fall in Line" by The Stridells from Chocolate City Soul: Rare Soul Gems]

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