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Reflections with Sammy Way: American Barber Shop was a Sumter landmark

By SAMMY WAY
Posted 1/4/20

Reflections remembers the American Barber Shop which was housed on South Main Street. This tonsorial institution was a favorite Saturday gathering place for Sumter's farmers and those needing "a shave and a haircut."

Wikipedia Encyclopedia …

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Reflections with Sammy Way: American Barber Shop was a Sumter landmark

Posted

Reflections remembers the American Barber Shop which was housed on South Main Street. This tonsorial institution was a favorite Saturday gathering place for Sumter's farmers and those needing "a shave and a haircut."

Wikipedia Encyclopedia defines a barber as "a person whose occupation is mainly to cut, dress, groom, style and shave men's and boys' hair and/or beard. A barber's place of work is known as a 'barbershop' or a 'barbers.' Barbershops are also gathering places for social interaction and public discourse; in some instances, barbershops are also public forums. They are locations of open debates, voicing public concerns and engaging citizens in discussions about contemporary issues." This article would not have been possible without the research of the late Mayor Bubba McElveen and Mrs. W.M. DeLorme. The articles and photos used were taken from The Sumter Item archives.

Perry Johnson operated the American Barber Shop at 41 S. Main St. during the 1920s. The shop was located between what was then Kress 5-10-25 cent store and DeLorme's Drug Store. Mr. Johnson employed four to six barbers depending on the volume of trade. According to research conducted by the late Mayor McElveen, there was a small enclosed room at the rear of the building. This enterprise was thought to be a beauty shop operated by a Mrs. Hunter. This shop is thought to be one of the first of its kind located in Sumter.

Other services available to the shop's customers was a shoeshine carried out by men who had their equipment located in the shop. In addition, just beyond the door in the rear of the building were "showers where patrons could bathe, as many customers at that time did not have running water at their homes, especially those residing in the country. Almost all of the barber business was done on Saturdays, and the barbers barely had time to stop for lunch and often did not get off work until 11 p.m."