Beloved barber to retire after 64 years at South Jersey shop

MT. HOLLY, New Jersey (WPVI) -- A long-standing barbershop in South Jersey is filled with antiques and relics of the past. But none are more remarkable than its namesake and owner, Donald Thompson.

"I enjoy what I do. So consequently, I didn't really consider this a job," said Thompson, who has been cutting hair at Don's Barber Shop for 64 years.

He first picked up the clippers in 1954, when he worked beneath several local barbers. Many of the customers he met would follow him into his own store in 1957.

"I've got lots of good people and they're friends, they weren't so much customers," he added.

One of those friends is Carl Shaw, who has trusted Thompson with his hairstyle since he was a child.

"He cut my dad's hair. I came here as a little boy. We've been friends ever since," said Shaw, who is 70 years old. "Don was in the Army and I was in the Air Force, and so, we talk a lot about the service."

Shaw, a history buff, has always been fascinated by the many trinkets tucked in each corner of the old-fashioned barbershop. The collection is a culmination of Thompson's involvement within the community.

"I enjoyed it, and people knew that I enjoyed it, so a lot of people contributed to me," he said. "Old telephones, old shaving mugs, antique bottles, pictures, a little bit of everything."

Thompson has decades' worth of baseball team photographs stacked on tables. Each year, he was one of many business owners that sponsored local teams.

"I've sold probably 75-80% of what I had already," he said. "We had 15-20 people a day come in here and buy things."

In retirement, Thompson hopes to challenge himself not to work. However, if the clipping itch returns, other local barbershops have invited him to cut hair part-time.

"Time flew and I don't have any regrets about going here in the first place," he said. "I was very fortunate and very happy and my children were happy. A nice life."

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