Dave’s Barber Shop

Celebrating 50 years of Barbering in Granton

  By Nancy Halterman

Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

November 22, 2006, Page 13


Dave Lavey has been barbering at Dave’s Barber Shop in Granton for the past 50 years.  In recognition of the long-running success and quality of service of the business, the shop recently received a Citation by the State Legislature.  The plaque is signed by State Assemblyman Scott Suder.

But Lavey didn’t always want to be a barber.  He originally hoped to become an optometrist, but lack of finances made that goal impossible.  After working in the Loyal Canning Company, putting in 16-20 hours a day and receiving little satisfaction, Lavey decided that he wanted to take up a trade where he could be respected. 

So, after high school, he decided to pursue barber school in Eau Claire.  The Town of York paid for his tuition.  At that time, in 1950, becoming a barber took four or five years of training.  He needed a place to begin his apprenticeship, and finally one opened up in Waterford, Wis., where he worked for six months.

 “I didn’t have a car, and my girlfriend lived in Chili and my folks in Granton, so I took the train home on holidays,” Lavey said.

But fate soon brought him closer to home when his instructor told him about Milo Mabie, of Neillsville, who was looking for an apprentice. 

Lavey completed his apprenticeship and journeyman training in Neillsville with Mabie and also took his Masters exam to become a shop manager.  The shop manager degree showed that he was qualified to run his own shop. 

It wasn’t long before one of Lavey’s buddies from technical school in Eau Claire called him up about an opening near Altoona.  “I moved there in 1955,” he said, “and worked for a swell guy named Ralph Tobish, who had just opened a new shop. 

“Milo had taught me how to cut women’s hair,” Lavey said.  “There was a beauty shop right next door, and quite a few women came in for a hair cut and then went next door for a perm.  It was a very good business and ‘Toby’ gave me a very good percentage.”

The one day, three Granton businessmen showed up in Altoona to talk to Lavey.  They really needed his help.  One of Granton’s barbers was dying and the other one was in his eighties and desperate to retire.  The men wanted Lavey to come to Granton and open a shop.

“This was my chance to run my own shop,” he said, “but my folks thought it would be stupid for me to leave such a  good job.”

Lavey decided to check into it though.  He called the state inspector to take a look at the two available shops in Granton.  The news was bad.  The inspector told him that the only way he could go to Granton was if he built a new shop.

Lavey was discouraged.  He couldn’t borrow the money at the time since he had two young children and other financial obligations.  So, he forgot about it.  Then, five or six weeks later, the businessmen approached him again.  They really needed a barber in Granton.  They offered to build the shop for him and he could pay it off monthly at a low rate of interest.

So that’s how Dave’s Barber Shop was built.  Lavey started working there on Nov. 19, 1956.  His business took off.  “I was so happy,” he said.  People came back about once a month to get another cut, “I worked many, many hours,” he said.

In 1963, Lavey had some help for a time from a fine young barber school graduate.  But it lasted only six to eight months, when the man enlisted in the Air Force during the time of the Vietnam War.

Lavey decided not to get another barber since his family was costing him a lot more money then.  Haircutting was a little slower in the ‘60s, too, because the guys were wearing their hair a lot longer.

Lavey said, “I was smart to get Candy, though, because she has the beautician part, too.”

Candy Andrews took her apprenticeship at the Barber’s styling salon in Marshfield.  Licenses then covered both barbering and beautician skills and took a much shorter period of time to achieve.  She called Lavey about once a year for four years to see about working with him.  Finally, he said, “I think I am ready for you now.”

In 1995, Andrews became owner of the shop and has been running it ever since, keeping the name of the shop the same.  Lavey now only works there one day a week – on Mondays.  Andrews also has another young stylist working with her, Stacy Melvin. 

Lavey had emotion in his voice as he said, “You make me cry,” when Andrews present him with the 50-year plaque at the shop last week.  Andrews and Melvin were in near tears also.

“I enjoy very much working with these girls, and I enjoy the people,” he said.  “I have been very fortunate.  Candy’s a real sweetheart, a real inspiration to me.”

“But anyone who says it’s an easy job, they’re full of baloney,” he said.  “You earn every dollar you get.”

Lavey enjoys his work and plans on doing it for a few more years.  He said that what he’ll miss most when he quits, are the people.  “You have to be a people person or you’ll never make it,” he said.  “You try to satisfy the customers and do what they tell you to do.”

“You do like you’d like to be treated yourself,” he said.

Dave Lavey seated in a barber chair, holds the plaque of recognition, with Candy Andrews (right), owner of Dave’s Barber Shop, and stylist, Stacy Melvin (left), standing nearby.

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon

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