Saturday, November 6, 2004
Outside of what used to be RC's Stadium Barber Shop, two men slowly lower the old RC's sign out front, pin it under their arms and cart the wooden plank out to a Dumpster in the alley.
On their way, they pass Rex Porter, the shop's new owner. And, of course, the place has taken on his name.
"It's been the Stadium Barber Shop since 1923," he says, alternately combing and clipping a young man's hair. "The shop fit me real well. I'm a sports nut."
After leaving his longtime position at Downtown Barber Shop, Porter now owns Rex's Stadium Barber Shop. He bought the place at 1033 Mass. from RC Pewtress, owner since 1987, for what he calls a "fair margin."
And Porter's keeping most of it, he says. He points to the wall of old sports photos, the antique barber chairs, the shelves of football helmets.
He says the sports tradition at the shop was so rich and so apparent, he decided to leave everything in place when he bought it.
"I've been remodeling ever since," he says.
Which explains the clutter and commotion of the workers, jolting in and out of the shop, fixing the window frame, cutting and breaking the old cracked window out front.
But it doesn't explain the line of people waiting for hair cuts.
After three weeks in business on his own, Porter is welcoming a steady flow of return customers -- many of them contacted personally by phone. And it's paying off.
"In two weeks, it's been an amazing growth," he says, already looking to add another barber to a place that's been a "one-chair shop" since the '80s.
After 21 years in Lawrence, Porter has built a strong roster of clients, some of whom fit in well with his new sports atmosphere.
"I've cut everyone's hair," he says, smiling and clipping away. "All the (Kansas University) basketball players -- (Nick) Collison, (Eric) Chenowith, Sasha Kaun."
The location, he says, also is a popular walk-through -- "the great part about being downtown."
A neighbor pops in to say hi. He checks out the two workers, cutting and tapping at the remains of the front window.
"Hey, you're really going the whole way, huh?" the man asks Porter.
Porter smiles and nods. At the end of the day, the glass may be changed, and the sign out front sports a different name, but it's still the old Stadium Shop.