Bears, bison and a boar frozen in mid-snarl are the first to greet any customer who steps into Ron’s Barber Shop.
The shop’s walls are a museum of taxidermied animal heads –– and sometimes whole animals –– all of which owner Steve Golden hunted himself. But, despite the barbershop’s unorthodox decor, all four barbers who work there believe in doing their job the old-fashioned way.
“This is such a rare thing, to find an old-school barbershop, where we do clipper work, shaves, we don’t shampoo hair,” said Rick Nease, who has been a barber since 1964. “We’ve got old people, young people, babies: it’s really a family kind of.”
Ron’s Barber Shop, which still bears the name of its original owner, was founded in downtown Shawnee more than 50 years ago.
When Golden bought the store at its current location 12 years ago, he slowly began to add animals from his hunting trips to the walls. Now they also cover the countertops and every available nook and cranny, but Golden still wants to add more.
“Most like it,” he said. “Some of the little kids, they get scared at first. Their parents will hold them up, ‘Touch it,’ you know? But after they get used to it, then they’ll come in and they’ll try to name them and what they are.”
Nease may have known he wanted to cut hair at 14, but the three other barbers at Ron’s have taken different paths to the profession.
Elizabeth Keffer was formerly in the Navy and went to school for nursing.
Golden studied art before deciding to cut hair instead.
Gary White, Golden’s nephew, was a Navy mechanic and always expected to work with machines when he left the service.
But they all share a love of barbering. Cutting people’s hair can be an art form, almost like making a sculpture, Keffer said.
“What I like about this is, people come in here for one reason,” Nease said. “They want to leave feeling better about themselves than they did when they walked in the door. And it’s our job to make them welcome...and change their appearance.”
The business has a lot of loyal customers, including one who drives all the way from Tulsa just to get a haircut. Sometimes customers stay after their haircut just to talk and hang out, Nease said.
Customer Glenn Peck described the barbers as “sort of like Dr. Phil with clippers,” because the barbers have learned everything about their customers’ lives over the years.
At least, almost everything.
“We know everything but the names,” Keffer said. “Their haircuts, their spouses, their children, their dogs. Not any of em’s names.”
Soon a white deer will join the assembly of animals on the wall. Golden said it’s being mounted right now.
“We don’t know (where it’s going to go),” White said, laughing. “We don’t have room.”
Ron’s Barber Shop is located on 1108 N. Harrison Ave. and does not take appointments.