A cut above
HOUGHTON – Bryan Haapapuro has seen hairstyles fall out of fashion and come back, and numerous other barbershops shut their doors. But after 31 years in the business, he’s still going strong.
Happapuro owns Bryan’s Barber Shop in Houghton, which he’s run since 1981. He got the start from area barber Dan Cooney, who told him more barbers were needed in the area, and sent Happapuro to barber college. He then opened his own shop – first in the Copper Country Mall, where he stayed for 30 years, and now in a spot on Razorback Drive.
The profession’s a good fit for him, he said.
“People fascinate me, especially with their different life stories, like this gentleman.” gesturing to a man sitting in the chair.
He enjoys helping people out – and the money doesn’t hurt.
“Because I’m Finn, I like the money part the best,” he said.
About 30 to 50 people come in a day, he said. Aside from haircuts, they’re also there there to shoot the bull.
“Usually political knowledge, because a lot of people lack it,” he said.
While at barber college, Happapuro also took a dual course in hairstyling. The added diversity has been the main change he’s seen since he started the business.
There’s also a lot fewer people doing it.
“When I started there were 23 barbers, and now there’s only seven around,” he said. “It’s due to economics, the jobs all fled to Mexico and China in the 90s.”
But barbershops are in decline all over, Haapauro said, which he attributes to changing home life.
“In the old days, dads would take the boys to the barbershops,” he said. “Because of the high taxes and all the bills, dads work more, and moms find it inconvenient to go to barbershops, so they take the kids to go to the beauty shops, and then they think those haircuts are nicer, but they’re not. There’s 12 basic male haircuts. It’s all a foundation of the 12.”
Those basic styles recur on about a 30-year cycle, Haapapuro said.
“Young kids, they call it hockey haircuts, but that’s just ’70s shags,” he said. “It all just goes around, because everybody wants to be new.”
Barbershops are generally family-oriented, Haapapuro said, and his is no exception. He’s cutting his third and fourth generations of hair. Asked how long he would keep at it, he threw out a figure of 19 years.
“I’ll be 72 then,” he said.
“I only work part-time now, so it’ll probably be less. because I enjoy my customers, I want to stay.”