By Adam Droscha
Anyone who is in the same line of work as his or her great-grandparent knows that there is a certain satisfaction that comes with telling the story of family tradition. Jerry’s Barbershop in downtown Charlotte is a reminder of one family’s craft and perseverance through several generations.
Mark Hughes, the current owner of Jerry’s, is a fourth generation barber in his family. His great-grandfather was a barber, as was his grandfather, his father, his sister, and his son-in-law Rece, who also works at Jerry’s. Mark’s grandfather owned the barbershop when it was called Pierce’s, and Mark still has customers come in who remember his grandfather. Jerry, Mark’s father and namesake of the current shop, started working with his father-in-law in 1954 and bought the business in 59. Jerry was still trimming hair into his 80s.
Mark reflected on the simplicity, yet enduring pride of his family’s story. He and his father did not intend to be barbers. In their own youths they briefly pursued different lines of work until they accepted the relevance and readiness of the family business. Jerry had intended to work in construction, even on large structures like the Mackinac Bridge. Mark began working at the barbershop when he was 19, briefly looked at other life possibilities and realized the great opportunity to stay in a supportive and recognizable community. His sister likewise worked in the family business for a few years, and later went on to work at the Barber/Styling College of Lansing. She also married Mark’s own barber instructor.
Rece, the next generation of family barbers to work at Jerry’s, feels honored to be a part of Jerry’s Barbershop legacy.
“I’ve always enjoyed what they’ve done,” said Rece. “Everybody needs a haircut.”
Rece is young, and both he and Mark realize his potential to carry the legacy of Jerry’s to the next generations in Charlotte. Mark has many regular, and loyal customers. Some of this clientele only want Mark to cut their hair, which is fine with Rece. As Mark gradually says goodbye to more and more of his decades-long customers, Rece is getting to know those who are still around while still building up his future of Jerry’s loyalists.
Lou Haley is one example of a loyal Jerry’s customer. Hard of hearing, yet still energetic, Lou was proud to proclaim that he had been coming to Jerry’s for over 40 years. Lou was only one of the many customers Mark knows by name. As with many small business owners, Mark knows that personal relationships have been essential for the over 60-year survival of Jerry’s.
Mark recalled a time when there wasn’t a vacant storefront in downtown Charlotte. Many of those storefronts were competing barbers, and Mark is thankful Jerry’s has outlasted them, as well as some larger franchises that have come and gone from Charlotte. His perspective, as always, is simple. Treat customers well, learn new trends, and maintain the same quality. Mark and Rece look forward to many more years of prosperous and loyal business based on small town charm and family tradition.
“We’ve been through thick and thin, we’ve been through good and bad. We hope to stick around and keep it going as long as we possibly can. It’s cool to hear the people who leave and come back to visit, or move back to the area. The friendships make it worth it,” said Mark.