GALION — Friday, April 30 seemed like any other day for longtime Galion barber Doug Shreck.
Like he had for the past half century, he served customers in his shop at 213 South Market Street, treating each of them to a quality hair cut and some pleasant conversation.
Only last Friday wasn’t just any other day for Schreck. It marked the penultimate day in a 50-year career for the Galion native. Schreck’s last day on the job as a barber was Saturday, May 1. It’s a trade he’s enjoyed from day one, he said. Schreck began training at the Ohio State Barber College in Columbus right out of high school.
“They had a career day at the high school and there was a representative from the barber school there,” Schreck said. “I took my chance with the draft in Vietnam. They missed me, so I went to barber school that next fall.”
With a large extended family, Schreck said he had no lack of customers when he began his career.
“My grandpa was one of 17 kids, so I had quite a few relatives to get started on,” Schreck said with a laugh. “When I first started, there were 17 barbers in Galion and today there’s three. I’m kind of a dying breed. … Back in the ’70s, all the factories were really going great guns in Galion. That’s probably why there were so many barbers. But the factories have pretty much shut down, except for the locally-owned ones. There just aren’t as many people in town compared to what there used to be.
“Galion is a good community. It’s supported me and my family really well.”
Schreck noted that consistency has been his key to success over the years.
“Giving a good hair cut is one of the prime things, but I think I’ve maybe missed — other than for funerals — I’ve probably only missed two or three days of work in those 50 years,” he said. “You have to be here and you have to be consistent.”
Schreck opened his shop on South Market Street on June 21, 1973. He said the trade has largely remained the same over the course of his career.
“Cutting hair is pretty much cutting hair,” he said. “It doesn’t change much over time. When I started out, it was the long hair phase and now for the kids it’s back to the long hair phase.”
Schreck said talking with his customers and catching up on what’s happening in their lives has been his favorite part of the job.
“Just about all of my customers are also my friends,” Schreck said.
Schreck and his wife have one son and two granddaughters.
And what are his plans for retirement?
“Well, I’ll play golf three days a week and then the other four days I’ll do what my wife asks me to do,” Schreck said.