No Appointment Necessary
By Reen Waterman | photos by Caroline J. Phillips
Left: Charlie and Shirley’s “New Old” Barbershop offers nostalgic ambiance and prices.
Right: Since 1992, owners Shirley Crook and Charlie Bronson have remained committed to their customers and the community.
My wife Linda and I love dining at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store restaurants for a comforting meal surrounded by a nostalgic ambiance. Customers experience the same charm and character at Charlie and Shirley’s “New Old” Barbershop in Stevensville. The barbershop has operated in the same location since opening in October 1992, except for a three-year stint at another location.
The walls of the barbershop, which is owned by Charlie Bronson and Shirley Crook, are adorned with a variety of memorabilia symbolizing their commitment to the community. It includes photographs of sponsored local youth sporting teams, certificates of appreciation, and even one of Charlie’s most prized possessions — the framed front page of a newspaper the day Pearl Harbor was attacked. Affable banter harkens back to the small-town days of the 1950s. Charlie and Shirley’s shop is a community hub, where people come from all over for a $10 haircut and pay by cash or check only. The barbershop offers the same welcoming camaraderie as the 1980s sitcom Cheers did, “Where everyone knows your name.”
“This is not our barbershop — it is the community’s. They know and appreciate this. New customers find instant community,” says Crook, who notes that customers who move way often keep in touch and send Christmas cards. “Customers are so invested in our shop that they donated all the mementos and bought the fish tank and chairs themselves.”
Shirley and Charlie are a one-in-a-million-couple, but in 1994, two years after they got married and opened the business, they amicably divorced. “We realized we were better as friends than intimates,” Bronson says. “I went to the courthouse and for $300 we handled the divorce ourselves — and business continued as usual.”
“We are business partners and best friends who would rather work with each other than anyone else. We trust each other,” Crook adds.
The unusual name for their business grew out of the temporary relocation of the barbershop, Crook says. “From 2007 to early 2011, we moved our business across the street to John Duty’s building,” she says. “Realizing we had lost a lot of customers because our location was hard to find, we moved back. And when we did, I told Charlie we needed a ‘hook,’ so the $10 haircut was born. And one of our customers suggested the new name and it stuck.”
When asked what she loves about her work, Crook points to how she was “deeply impacted” after reading The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. “What most hit me was that work is ‘love made visible.’ If you love your work, it comes through,” she says. “We really care how people feel about their hair. It is a real pleasure to make people feel good.”
Crook’s daughter-in-law, Jen Lasher, has joined the business. She’s working on completing 2,200 hours of training in two years so she can be certified as a barber by The Maryland Board of Barbers. “Everyone loves coming to her,” Crook remarks.
Bronson says the barbershop is different than corporate chains “where you are just a number” and “the employees have no vested interest.” At the shop, “we have invested in the community. We are quick to sponsor a softball team or an Eagle Scout and support the Rotary,” he says. “We show in many ways that we love being here and serving the community.”
Charlie and Shirley’s New Old Barbershop
237 Main St, Stevensville, MD Hours: Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily and
Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Closed: Sundays and Mondays
Haircuts cost $10 ,Wednesday is “Kid’s Day” and haircuts for children are $9 that day.