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Bay Street barber celebrates 40 years, plans to retire
A black and white photograph of Bay Street, shot in 1917, clearly shows a barber’s pole in the same location that Ernie Moreno’s barber shop stands today.
Moreno displays the picture proudly on one of the shop’s walls.
He’s worked there since May 26, 1971, and he plans to retire, just as he celebrates his fortieth year in business, passing on the legacy to another barber.
“It’s been a good ride,” Moreno said, “but I found someone to buy the shop, so I figured, what the heck.”
Moreno learned to cut hair while working for the Navy in the 1960’s, and he took his official barber’s training in Seattle, earning his state license in 1970.
The next year, he went into business on Bay Street with Rick Wyatt, a friend he’d met in the Navy in 1965.
“When I came here, I found out that Port Orchard was a nice, friendly town,” he said. “People in this town took me in like one of their own.”
Keeping good rapport with his customers has played a major role in his success, he said.
He’s nicknamed one of his regular customers “The Mayor of Vashon Island,” and admits that he initially chose the nickname because he couldn’t remember the man’s real name.
Another of his customers plans to bring his son in for a haircut before Moreno retires, so that Moreno can say that he’s cut hair for three generations of the family.
“Being a barber is kind of like being a bar tender,” he explained. “You’ve got to listen to what people want.”
Moreno already knows what many of his customers want, because he had the haircut himself, for many years, in the Navy.
“I cut a lot of sailor’s hair, so I know how they like it,” he said.
Some of his customers have asked him not to retire, he said.
“Most of the people that tell me not to retire are retired,” Morreno said, so they’re clearly not following their own advice.
It just seems like good timing, Moreno said.
His wife, Beverly, plans to retire from her job, driving a school bus, by the end of the week, and he likes the idea of retiring at the same time.
A retirement party is planned for Thursday, June 30 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Puerto Vallarta restaurant in Port Orchard.
After that, Moreno says, he hasn't made official retirement plans.
“We’re just going to do whatever we want to do,” he said. “I’m not going to say ‘we’re going to do this’ or ‘we’re going to do that,’ because then, you never do it.”
As he retires, he’s confident that his customers be happy with their new barber, 61-year-old Darrell Ingram.
Ingram got his start, like Moreno, giving haircuts in the Navy, and he doesn’t plan to change much about the shop.
He’d like to keep the prices and hours the same, he said.
“The clientele Ernie has is used to that and comfortable with that, so I’ll keep it that way,” he said.
Ingram is leaving his barbershop in Spokane to work closer to his family, which includes new grandkids.
“Ernie finally decided to retire,” said Ingram, “and ‘I said, I’ll give you full price (for the barber shop).”
“I like that shop,” he said. “I like being on the main street. I like Port Orchard. It’s like a dream come true. It’s exactly what I wanted.”
Ingram also plans to try to develop good rapport with his clientele, he said, and “just give them some good old fashioned service,” he said.
“My slogan is ‘I give every customer my best haircut,’ ” he said. “I like to talk with them and spend time with them and get to know them, and I know they’ll come back and be happy with their haircut.”
He wants to give his customers the chance to get away from the frantic pace of our society, he said.
“It’s such a hurry up environment,” he said. “I want to create a comfortable environment where they can relax and be at ease.”