After 38 years of cutting hair, Shepard’s Barber Shop owner Leon Apostolo said the biggest change in the barbershop business is that everybody is in a hurry these days.
Apostolo attributes the change of pace to Conroe’s emerging technology and population growth.
“In the past, people would come in and relax and have conversation,” Apostolo said. “It was slower-paced. Now it’s a rush, rush, rush society. The growth of Conroe has gotten bigger now. It’s not like the sweet little town it once was.”
Serving Conroe for 103 years, Shepard’s Barber Shop was named the oldest barber shop in Montgomery County by the Montgomery County Historical Commission, earning a historical marker on the front of the building. The shop has a wooden rack dating back to 1936, an old soda machine, pictures and news clippings on its walls.
“I’m pretty sure it’s the oldest barber shop in Texas,” Apostolo said, adding he is looking forward to the day his shop receives a historical marker from the state’s historical commission.
The building was known locally as the Little Jack West Building when it was built by Peter West and his son, John Henry “Jack” West, in 1911. It was first used as a barber-shop by Henry R. Williamson in 1912 and later by Stovall Thomas in 1938, according to the MCHC. Bobby Joe Shepard purchased the building in 2000 from the West heirs and operated the shop until he sold it to Apostolo in 2013.
“I have [cut hair] here since I was 17 years old. I figured I might as well own it,” Apostolo said.
Elvis Presley had his hair cut at the shop when he came through Conroe in 1955 for a concert at Conroe High, Apostolo said. Local celebrities, such as country singer Larry Butler and boxer Roy Harris, still get their hair cut at the shop regularly.
Apostolo said he arrives at 6 a.m. every morning, except Sundays and Mondays, turns on the lights and starts cutting hair. He said he has a solid base of faithful customers, who drive many miles to sit in his chair.
“I have one guy who drives here all the way from Baytown about every six weeks for me to cut his hair because he can’t find anybody to give him a flat top,” Apostolo said. “We do hot shaves, also. Here is our little oven where we keep our towels. They come out smokin’ hot.”
Steve Ehrman was so relaxed in Apostolo’s chair that he was napping while getting a trim.
“I love it because it’s like walking into Mayberry [the setting of “The Andy Griffith Show”],” Ehrman said. “Today, I got here at 11 a.m. and waited behind four other people for Leon.”
Despite the hair cutters loyal customers, Apostolo said barbershops are a dying breed.
“Most of them are chains and run you through like an assembly line, get you out in about five minutes and send you on your way,” Apostolo said. “As far as old-fashioned barber shops go, we’re vanishing.”
116 Simonton St., Conroe
Hours: Tue.-Sat. 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Closed Sundays and Mondays