Hairdresser clips his final coiffure

After 37 years in Victoria, Garry Preston retires his hair dryer

Long-time hairdresser Garry Preston has a standing joke at his salon head start: “I never repeat gossip. So listen really close the first time.”

It’s the kind of humour that has endeared the recently-retired hair stylist to clients in more than 37 years of business.

The stylist/comedian celebrated his last day behind the chair Friday, Dec. 29 with cake, balloons and free hugs for customers with every haircut.

Preston was encouraged to take up the trade by his aunt and uncle who owned a salon/barbershop in Medicine Hat.

However, it was his uncle who pushed him into the hairstylist side of the business.

“I felt he had good foresight, he said, ‘the art of barbering is dying, take up hairdressing.”

Which begs the question, what is the difference between a haircut from a barber and a hairstylist?

“About $20,” Preston said with a laugh.

Preston trained at the Marvel School of Hairdressing in Calgary. And at the time, he was one of the first men to take up the hair style trade.

But Preston admits he was far from being a natural.

“I was in the junior room longer than anyone else they had ever had. People say they’re all thumbs, I was all big toes,” he joked. “It was terrible when I first started. But one day, one of the girls said to me, ‘you will never make a hairdresser,’ and them were fighting words.”

He took over his first salon, Lady Be Lovely, on Fort St. from his aunt. In 1976, Preston and his wife, Christine, moved to 1010 Cook St. and moved again four years ago to his present location.

His present salon has 16 staff members and 7,000 customers in its data base. Some clients have stayed with him throughout the years and changes. When a client of 30 years died, her family asked Preston to read the eulogy at the funeral.

“Sometimes in life you feel like you’ve hit a homer and after I did the eulogy I felt like I’d hit a homerun,” he said.

The secret to Preston’s success?

“I love people. If you don’t love people you shouldn’t be in this industry.”

His other secret is keeping up with the style.

Victoria is a fairly progressive city, he says.

And while colour has become the most requested styling technique, Preston admits he’s done his fair share of perms.

“I figured out that I’ve given in my lifetime over 100,000 perms. We would average maybe three a day. It was huge.”

In addition to keeping clients happy, Preston has achieved loyalty from his staff.

His salon is one of few in the Capital Region to offer a medical and dental plan and a Christmas bonus.

Preston also believes in giving back to the community. His salon has participated in Cuts for a Cure and Cops for Cancer fundraisers.

While Preston be hanging up the shears, he will continue to own and operate head start.


The following is some advice from retiring hairdresser Garry Preston:

“If your stylist has an off day the first person to tell is them. Give them the chance to right a wrong. Number 2, give a new stylist at least three times before you make a decision on whether you want to stay with them or not.

The other thing I would do is always tip your hairdresser well. They’re very deserving people and it’s not a very high paying job.”

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