The Cloverleaf Barber Shop on Hixson Pike is celebrating 50 years of operation.
Funny thing is, pomade hair product and full-face razor shaves, popular when the shop opened in the middle of the 20th century, are back in style.
So are barber shops in general, for that matter.
The unisex salons that dominated the hair business for two generations are now merely an option. More men are drifting back to the barber-pole establishments that were the norm when the Cloverleaf Barber Shop opened for business in 1966.
In the shop's early years, the men of the nearby DuPont plant and workers building the Sequoyah nuclear complex would drift into the little strip shopping center just north of Highway 153. It was an area that by the early 1970s would be anchored by Northgate Mall.
The Cloverleaf was named for the Highway 153/Hixson Pike interchange, which is shaped like a clover. The original sign painted on the side of the building touted "free parking," when that perk was still a novelty.
Earlier this week, three customers were waiting at the front door when Cloverleaf Barber Shop owner Brenda Wallace arrived for work at 9 a.m. As it was in the old days, walk-ins are the norm.
Beverly Faidley, a 20-year customer, was the first to arrive.
"Not many women want to go to a barber shop," she said while waiting on the sidewalk. "But I like it because you don't have to make an appointment and you don't usually have to wait very long."
Wallace graduated from barber school in the 1970s. She took over the shop when her former Cloverleaf business partner died 11 years ago in a motorcycle accident.
Wallace's daughter, Lauren "Tootsie" Bullard, came to work at Cloverleaf eight years ago. She opened a boutique styling business called Deja Du Salon in the back of the shop, but she also helps her mother in the front of the store.
Today, the shop is sandwiched between Five Guys Burgers and Fries on the right and Steak & Shake on the left, which both mirror its mid-century design.
Bullard is responsible for the decor inside the shop, which bends toward grooming-product signs and pictures of post-World War II pin-up girls. There's a black and white checkerboard vinyl floor that adds to the shop's 1950s vibe.
"I always feel happy at the Cracker Barrel," Wallace explains. "So we copied them and tried to create a nostalgic feel."
Wallace said the original owners, Clarence Parker and Grady Bettis, opened the shop when Hixson Pike was still just a two-lane road. Over time, the Hixson area exploded commercially and the Cloverleaf Barbershop benefited from its little nest right in the middle of suburbia.
Wallace has been in place long enough that she's seen a lot of customers come and go.
"I've lost a lot of good people," she says flatly, lamenting that she sometimes doesn't know if a long-time customer has moved away or died.
Meanwhile, daughter Lauren is busy recruiting the next generation of loyal customers. The business now has a website, and it has become an authorized dealer for three brands of hair products.
Lauren has begun perfecting the low-taper fade cuts and hard hair-parts that are becoming popular with today's young men, who are beginning to favor high-sheen pomade over dry styles.
"People love nostalgia and that old-school culture," she explains.
In other words, what's old is new again.
And that nostalgic mood is laying the foundation for another 50 years of good fortune for the Cloverleaf Barber Shop.
Contact Mark Kennedy at mkennedy@timesfree press.com or 423-645-8937.