For nearly 50 years, many UC Davis students have gotten their monthly haircut without ever leaving campus grounds. They will have to venture a bit farther starting next month when University HairCutters closes its doors Dec. 15.
A fixture in lower Freeborn since the early 1960s, University HairCutters is currently run by owner John Salido, who first began working at the shop part-time while a student at Sacramento City College. Salido will retire next month after over 40 years of cutting hair at UC Davis.
Salido, who grew up in nearby Winters, first entered into the barber profession as a side job to support himself while in school.
“I actually wanted to become a forest ranger,” Salido said. “My uncle was a barber and he suggested I get my [barber’s] license in order to pay for school. It was only going to be temporary but it ended up being my career.”
Salido ended up leaving school and University HairCutters to join the army in the early stages of the Vietnam War, and remained in the army reserves for the next 25 years.
After returning from the military in 1965, Salido bought a small barbershop located behind what is now Little Prague in downtown Davis. Four years later, he was invited back to University Haircutters and has remained there ever since.
Salido said he returned to the campus shop primarily for the atmosphere and convenience.
“I loved the environment of this shop…the faculty and students,” he said. “It also allowed me to work on weekdays so that I could fulfill my military obligations on the weekends.”
In addition, Salido was able to pursue his love for the outdoors, teaching fly-fishing classes at Outdoor Adventures and a stream ecology course at the University Extension.
Though University HairCutters is tucked away from the rest of campus in the MU basement, Salido has a strong clientele and relies on word of mouth to attract new business.
“I have very loyal customers,” he said. “Some of my regulars have been coming in here for years…I also get a lot of business from students who find me on DavisWiki.”
Graduate student Alex Mandel has been a customer of Salido’s for over 10 years.
“I started coming to [University HairCutters] as an undergraduate when my roommate told me about it,” he said. “It was always really convenient to come in between classes without ever having to leave campus.”
Mandel said he also enjoyed talking with Salido during his regular haircuts.
“[Salido] has been here a long time, so he knows a lot about the university,” Mandel said. “I was also a wildlife biology major so we have a lot of conversations in that area…I get to have an enjoyable, everyday conversation while getting my haircut. It’s pretty nice.”
Now that Salido is retiring, Mandel said he isn’t sure where he will go to get his haircuts.
“I don’t really have a lot of time…I guess I will just have to check out some places around Davis,” he said. “I really wish there had been more of an effort by the university to get a replacement rather than just closing the shop completely.”
The decision to close the campus shop was made primarily because of space shortage, said Brett Burns, director of Memorial Union auxiliary services.
“With all of the reconstruction right now due to the ASUCD Coffee House remodel, there has really been a lack of space in the building,” Burns said. “We had to move a lot of retail locations such as classical notes down to lower Freeborn and have been using a lot of the space down there for storage.”
Burns said next summer’s bookstore remodel will also force the University to use many of the rooms in lower Freeborn for retail units and “swing space.”
“Long-term, we would eventually like to bring a barbershop back to the MU,” Burns said. “However, if we do that, we would likely move it up to the first floor. Lower Freeborn is just not a good spot for business and we try not to place retail units down there if we can avoid it.”
Meanwhile, Salido said he is looking forward to the extra time that retirement will bring. He eventually plans to move to Hawaii, but will first spend a few years traveling around Montana and Wyoming with his mobile home and fishing buddy. Salido said he will miss his time on campus though.
“It is going to be weird to wake up Dec. 17 and not come into work,” he said. “I have met so many interesting people and learned so much during my years here…I have cut hair for some of the best specialists in the world, and the students have taught me so much. There couldn’t be a better place to work.”
ERICA LEE can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.