If I spend five minutes a day thinking about my hair, that's four minutes more than needed
For many years, since my teens, I’ve liked it long. I had a photo on the wall at work of me holding my newborn daughter Erin, and I’m sporting a mullet.
One day I came to work in a ponytail. An editor, who once was a Miami cop, looked at me and said, “That’s pretty (bad word) professional.”
So barbers and I have kept our distance. Until I met Steph the barber, the only name I can recall in over 30 years is Neil, an Inverness barber who told me not to listen to the editor and to keep my hair long. Neil was a nice guy but I think he was trying to get me fired.
Over the years, I’ve simplified the hair process. I like it short and my wife is all too happy to tell me when it’s time.
Finding a regular barber is like finding a good mechanic. I was comfortable at Famous Fred’s, which is now shut down, in Crystal River. One day Stephanie Arbuckle cut my hair, we struck up a conversation and it was all good.
A few years back Steph got into a car accident and never really returned to Fred’s full time. She went off to other barbers, including one who inspired her to become the best at her job she could be.
He also inspired her to seek God, to rely on his will and not her own. She began to focus on reaching goals and came to the realization that she wanted her own shop.
At 35 years old, that was quite an undertaking. Steph got her ducks in a row and was about to sign a lease when, literally the night before, the plaza owner backed out. Steph was devastated and broken, not knowing what to do.
So she went fishing.
Steph bought a rod at Ed’s Tackle Shop in the Airport Plaza in Crystal River. She noticed the space next to the bait shop was empty, but other than writing down a phone number on the window, didn’t give it another thought.
Then she went out in the gulf near Yankeetown, by herself, and caught dinner for her husband and two children. And in that silence, surrounded by the peace of God’s presence, Steph came to a decision.
The next day she called that number. She signed a lease and, about a month ago, Stephanie’s Family Barber was born.
The shop has a warm, friendly feel. She especially likes children and plans to have special times where parents can bring their kids in for a haircut that isn’t rushed.
And, of course, she nailed my haircut, as you can see from the photo.
I admire the heck out of Steph and other owners of small businesses, especially those just starting out. It takes tremendous courage and personal financial risk to undertake such an endeavor.
But as this county grows and the big names roll in, it’s the Stephanie Arbuckles of Citrus County that will help keep its identity. There are many reasons to support local businesses, but the biggest is these folks are our neighbors and friends.
They’re here for us. We should be there for them. And that’s not a close shave.
Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.