After 26 years working in facilities maintenance at Rockwell Automation in Milwaukee, Saukville resident Scott McCutcheon has returned to his true calling — cutting hair.
On May 5, he bought Vic’s Barber Shop at W62 N566 Washington Ave. in downtown Cedarburg and started working there on June 3. A new sign — McCutcheon’s Barber Shop — will soon hang on the narrow grey building that has been a barbershop since it was built in 1886.
Victor Krause, who owned the shop for 37 years, would only sell the building and business to someone who would keep it a barbershop. Krause, who lived in Grafton until moving to Germantown a few years ago, still cuts hair a couple days a week at his old shop.
Owning the shop is a dream come true for McCutcheon.
“I enjoy getting up for work again,” he said. “It’s wonderful — 10 times better than I expected.
“It’s not like a job. I get to cut hair and socialize all day. It’s the people I meet that makes it fun. You can learn a lot about a person in 15 to 20 minutes if you listen.”
Richard Halliburton, 85, of Cedarburg came into the shop for the first time last week and talked about his deceased wife and his new girlfriend, an Irish lass who lives in Racine who he met at a dance in Milwaukee. Halliburton has thick, white hair and his eyebrows also needed a little trim.
When McCutcheon finished the cut, Halliburton looked at it from all sides.
“I look like a movie star,” he said, giving his seal of approval.
Not only has McCutcheon wanted to own a barbershop since graduating from barber school in 1978, he’s also a history buff eager to restore the building to its 1880s glory.
McCutcheon plans to resurface the original hardwood flooring that’s under a laminate floor. He also wants to remove the current ceiling, return it to its original height and install a tin ceiling similar to the one shown in historical photos.
He delved into the structure’s history and acquired photos of all the previous owners — Ray Ertl, Ed Mueller, Gerald Edgren and Krause — and some of the barbers who worked for them. The photos and other memorabilia are on display in the shop.
Antique barbering tools, including long shaving blades, straps to sharpen them, customers’ shaving mugs, old scissors, clippers and other memorabilia on display came from McCutcheon’s collection.
“This is only a small portion of it. I have a barbershop chair from the 1870s I plan to bring in,” McCutcheon said.
He was inspired to be a barber by the man who cut his hair — Dave Mueller, who owned the Hair Station in Grafton — when he was a senior at Grafton High School.
“He always seemed happy and to have a nice life,” McCutcheon said. “I asked him a lot of questions. He loved his job, and his grandfather was a barber.
“I didn’t have anything else I really wanted to do, and I had to pick something. He agreed to hire me if I went to barber school.”
After graduating and getting his license, McCutcheon worked for Mueller for 10 years. He loved his job.
But he left barbering when he and wife Sara, who owns Silk Screen Specialists in Grafton, started a family and neither had sufficient health insurance or other benefits.
“Sara had her own business, and we decided it was easier for me to leave,” McCutcheon said. “I always knew I would return to barbering. It was always my first love.”
He and his wife have three adult children and three grandchildren.
While still working at Rockwell, McCutcheon started cutting hair for Krause when he needed help.
“Vic started talking to me about buying the shop five years ago, but I was only 50,” McCutcheon said. “I told him to wait because I couldn’t retire until I was 55.”
One other full-time barber — Jerry Schmidt, who owned the former Town Barbershop in Cedarburg until selling it two years ago — works at the shop. Part-time barbers Cynthia Redeker and Donna Klumb rent chairs.
There are usually two barbers in the shop. Walk-ins are welcome, but appointments are recommended.
“It’s an old-time barbershop. I would say 99% (of the customers) are men,” McCutcheon said. “Some have been coming here since they were children, and now they’re grandfathers.”
Although a sign on the wall reads, “Shave and a haircut 25 cents,” McCutcheon doesn’t give shaves.
“That went out in the 1980s when AIDS was prevalent,” he said. “They don’t even teach it in barber school anymore, but it’s coming back in some places.”
McCutcheon emphasized that he’s a barber, not a stylist.
“Not a lot of people are going into barbering,” McCutcheon said. “Most are combining barbering and styling in salons.
“Places like this are rare, but a lot of men don’t want to go to a salon.”
McCutcheon opens the barbershop at 7 a.m. every day except Sundays. He closes at 6 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays, 7 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays and noon on Saturdays. The price of a haircut is the same Krause charged — $17 for senior citizens and children and $18 for others.
The hours are longer than his previous job, but McCutcheon said he couldn’t be happier.
Image information: The old barbershop pole is now turned on by Scott McCutcheon of Saukville, who recently bought Vic’s Barber Shop in downtown Cedarburg. Photo by Sam Arendt