The Barbers of Commerce, Texas
The Service Barber Shop opened on October 1st, 1945 and was co-operated by Roy Martin and Earl Hampton. Both have a long history of working in and owning barber shops in Commerce, Texas. Martin started working at the Westside Barber Shop in 1925 and later owned one of the locations with Johnny Anglin in 1931. He sold this location in 1933 and moved The Palace Barber Shop near the theater he named his business after. Martin transitioned his business to Paris, Texas, in 1942 but soon returned to Commerce and opened City Barber Shop. After World War II (during which he worked for the railroad), Martin and Hampton opened the Service Barber Shop in 1945. The shop location and/or the barbers attached to certain business names moved frequently. For example, when Martin shifted the Service Barber Shop to 1124 Main, it was “his tenth move to a different location for business" . In 1948, Dick Hunter (owner of the West Side Barber Shop), Roy Martin, and Earl Hampton exchanged ownership and interest holdings in their respective shops before settling in their original business partnerships, with Hampton working for Martin and Hunter operating his own enterprise. As one 1948 Commerce Journal article, “amusing but confusing is the situation here in the barber business” .
Competition remained fierce into the 1970s. In 1979, four barber shops held space on Main Street. Service Barber Shop (1124 Main), Clyde’s Barber Shop (1127 Main), Style Shape—The Men’s Cutting and Styling Shop (1133 Main), and Chapman’s Barber Shop (1110 Main). By the 1980s, locals bemoaned the loss of the good old days when these storefronts offered conversation and discussions of local happenings. Conversations transition from a “virtually mandatory” occurrence in an atmosphere with “several men sitting around just visiting” to conversation being the driven (or not) by the customer, with an emphasis on “items of national interest instead of local" . Changing hair styles and faster lifestyles each hurt the local barber shop. One-by-one the barbers packed up their shops. Only the Westside Barber Shop continues this local tradition, cutting hair and exchanging the news just off the main downtown square.