Bar­ber Mike cuts his losses

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Jus­tine Glu­cina

He’s cut, trimmed, shaved and pol­ished thou­sands of heads of hair from multi-mil­lion­aires to politi­cians.

Now, af­ter more than 35 years run­ning his Re­muera bar­ber store, Mike Addy is clos­ing shop and head­ing to Pt Che­va­lier.

“The cus­tomers are gut­ted. We’re mov­ing to the other side of town, but a lot of peo­ple will drive over there.”

The lease at The Gen­try on Re­muera Rd ex­pired ear­lier this month, and Mr Addy says there is no way to re­new it.

“We looked at other sa­lons in this area but there was noth­ing we can af­ford. Some are ask­ing for $1000 a week and we couldn’t charge what we charge to make a liv­ing.”

Mr Addy’s ca­reer is a fam­ily legacy span­ning five gen­er­a­tions.

His great-grand­fa­ther, grand­fa­ther, fa­ther and mother were all hair­dressers.

Two of his eight chil­dren are fol­low­ing in his foot­steps, and all four cousins in Eng­land are in the same trade.

De­spite his 18 grand­chil­dren be­ing too young to work, one is plan­ning to ap­ply for a hair­dress­ing and makeup school.

Mr Addy started his 50-year ca­reer at age 10 help­ing out at his fa­ther’s bar­ber store and mother’s salon in Eng­land.

Af­ter fin­ish­ing an ap­pren­tice­ship in May­fair, he de­cided to broaden his hori­zons and try for some­thing more chal­leng­ing. At 21 he left his home­land. “I asked my un­cle: ‘What’s the fur­ther­most place away from here?’ They said New Zealand. I said: ‘Where’s New Zealand’?”

With an im­age of a coun­try filled with can­ni­bals and jun­gle, he jokes he was warned to take his gun.

But af­ter a month at sea, Mr Addy ar­rived in Auck­land and set­tled in Man­gere east, a life vastly dif­fer­ent from what he had imag­ined.

He be­gan work­ing at Lon­don Line, a salon in cen­tral Auck­land.

It was there he re­alised that 1950s New Zealand was be­hind the times in terms of men’s hair­dress­ing, prompt­ing him to open a bar­ber shop.

His clien­tele are a mix of mil­lion­aires, truck driv­ers, politi­cians, ac­tors and po­lice­men.

And while he won’t dis­close whose hair he has trimmed, he says men do open up and share se­crets.

“They are more re­served than women but they do talk about men things like rugby and work. You build quite a rap­port with some cus­tomers.

“Bar­ber­ing is very con­fi­den­tial. What is said in a salon, stays in a salon. Peo­ple tell you con­fi­den­tial things and I don’t re­peat what they say to some­one else.”

The most fash­ion­able cut of the mo­ment, favoured by fa­mous New Zealan­ders, is the short num­ber one, two and three cuts, he says.

“When the Bee­tles came out it started longer hair, and bar­bers made the mis­take of not chang­ing. Some ac­tu­ally put up signs say­ing ‘no long hair’.”

He has seen the flat-top, mo­hawk, the spikey punk era and the colours in the 90s all come and go.

He has also wit­nessed the rise and the fall of bar­ber shops.

“There aren’t enough bar­ber shops.

“When I first came here there were four shops in Re­muera. Then af­ter two years we were the only one. They all died.”

With women’s sa­lons con­tin­u­ing to charge more for a hair­cut, he says peo­ple are look­ing for cheaper al­ter­na­tives.

The bar­ber shop is on the re­vival once more.

“They find it con­ve­nient to come. And we get sec­ond and third gen­er­a­tion fam­i­lies com­ing in.“

It’s the peo­ple and the con­nec­tion,” he says.

The 66-year-old says he is sad to leave be­hind his Re­muera cus­tomers, but is ex­cited about meet­ing new clients at his Pt Che­va­lier shop.

“It would be great along with new cus­tomers to have some of my oldies pop in for a chat and a good hair­cut.”

Photo: FIONA GOODALL

Snip, cut: Mike Addy of The Gen­try in Re­muera is mov­ing to Pt Che­va­lier af­ter 35 years.

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