Gene Malott is hanging up his scissors after more than 58 years as a barber and 54 years as the sole proprietor of Gene’s Barbershop in Dodsonville. The shop has been a mainstay of the area for the past five decades.
“Barbering has been a good life, and I have lots of great memories from my years at the shop,” said Malott.
Malott went to the former Cincinnati Barber College in the Over-the-Rhine area of the city in the early 1960s. After completing school and obtaining his barber license, he worked at a barbershop in Milford for four years before venturing out on his own.
Initially, Malott’s father considered buying what would become Gene’s Barbershop for himself, but after making an offer on the space, he asked his son if he wanted it for himself. “I told him I could do something with it,” said Malott. Initially the space was used as a blacksmith shop and a house.
“After I bought it, everyone asked me when I was going to put a barbershop there, so I thought I’d try that,” said Malott. He continued to work at the shop in Milford during the day and at his shop at nights for a few weeks before deciding to go on his own full-time. “I opened it up full-time and had a good living,” he said. “I’ve met a lot of wonderful people over the years.”
He said he enjoyed teasing his customers over the years and recounted a story about twin boys about 13 years old named Terry and Jerry who used to come to the shop. “I cut Terry’s hair first, and when it was Jerry’s turn, I asked him if he wanted his hair cut like his brother’s,” Malott said. “Jerry told me not to do it like his brother’s, but to make him handsome instead.
“So, I cut his hair and I told him, ‘I have good news and bad news.’ I told him, ‘You’ve got a good-looking haircut, but you’re still ugly!’ When Terry started laughing, I asked him why (he was laughing), and let him know he looked exactly like his brother.”
Malott didn’t have immediate plans to retire, but he was recently approached by Gabe Polston, who wanted to take over the reins of the business. Malott said he pondered the idea, and decided the thought of spending more time on his farm and the possibility of buying a boat and fishing on Rocky Fork Lake appealed to him.
Malott said he regrets leaving before he was able to say goodbye to all of his longtime customers.
“I hate to leave so quickly because I always told my wife if I retire, I want to give everyone a free haircut the last month I work and tell them how much a appreciate their business,” Malott said. “I have a lot of faithful customers.
Reach John Hackley at 937-402-2571.