He still owns half the business but at age 86, Ted Enns has, er, clipped his hours somewhat.
The longtime Vernon barber, half-owner of Country Squire Barbers and Stylists on 29th Street a block south of the Village Green Centre, sits at his Alexis Park home he shares with wife Muriel, and when the phone rings asking him to come to the shop he founded in 1967, he goes.
“I’m on the spare board now,” laughed Enns, who has never retired and who remembers a reporter coming to his shop as a kid with his dad, and laughs as he fondly remembers tormenting the child with his shop’s vacuum cleaner, used to get all the loose hairs off the head at the end of a cut.
“I’m cutting fourth generations now. I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of amazing people come to my shop. They still want me (to cut their hair). If I’m there, they ask for me and they’ll wait for me to finish. It doesn’t happen as often now. People will only wait for a barber for so long.”
Originally from Chilliwack, Enns was working making jam for Canada Packers in his hometown when he hurt his back lifting the 100-pound boxes of jam. Married with two young sons, Enns was cutting his boys’ hair “out of necessity,” to save a dollar when Muriel encouraged him to become a barber full time.
He enrolled in the Moler Barber School in Vancouver and, six months later, he moved the family to Kamloops, where a spot in a local shop opened up.
In February of 1967, Enns was curling in a bonspiel in Kamloops and playing against his uncle, a Vernon real estate company manager, who had the late Pete Guidi, owner of Butcher Boys, on his team. After the game, the teams went back to their hotel for refreshments which is when Enns’ uncle convinced Guidi to let Enns open his own shop in the old BX Motors garage located on the Butcher Boys property.
He named the shop Country Squire after the 1965 station wagon he drove his family to their new North Okanagan home in. He’s worked in Vernon for the past 52 years.
“I remember my first customer. I don’t remember his name but I can see his face. He was a retired guy living in the BX,” said Enns. “The second customer owned a gravel pit down below (Pleasant Valley Road). I can’t remember his name, either.”
Enns opened from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and was open six days a week. His lone day off was Thursday in order that he could attend auctions at Valley Auction in Spallumcheen, as he owned acreage in Lavington.
He stayed at the old BX Motors site until 1985 when he moved from the Butcher Boys location due to the grocery store renovating, and opened in its present location. Enns worked by himself for another year before finally hiring some help as business as booming.
“I hired a young lady from Merrit named Laurie, who had just graduated from barber school,” said Enns, who later added his son, Cal, to the roster. Cal still works at the shop and is responsible for cutting Enns’ hair.
“He owes me,” laughs Enns.
Business is still going strong at Country Squire. There are seven barbers on the list, counting Enns, and there’s no sign of the business slowing down.
“It’s still going very well,” said Enns. “If you have good barbers, that’s the key.”
Enns has no plans to retire as long as his health is good.
“If I can make it up the ramp (into the shop), I’m still going to be cutting hair,” said Enns. “And my back is fine.”
Country Squire is open Monday to Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. for full shaves, hair and razor cuts.