locally owned since 1854

Longtime barber changes mind, will close Dec. 30; Hoover has owned Olmsted shop since 1962

By Phyllis Zimmerman, Special to the Press & Journal
Posted 12/20/17

 

Doug Hoover said he’ll miss the people the most when he retires and closes his barber shop in Lower Swatara Township on Dec. 30.

Hoover, who has been cutting hair for more than 50 …

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Longtime barber changes mind, will close Dec. 30; Hoover has owned Olmsted shop since 1962

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Doug Hoover said he’ll miss the people the most when he retires and closes his barber shop in Lower Swatara Township on Dec. 30.

Hoover, who has been cutting hair for more than 50 years, has owned the Olmsted Plaza Barber Shop off West Harrisburg Pike since buying out his old bosses in 1962. During that time, he’s acquired around “700 and some” regular customers, he said. 

His people will miss him, too. On a recent Saturday morning, the shop’s waiting area was filled with loyal patrons waiting to get their last holiday trim from Hoover.

“I’ve been coming here since 1960,” said Glen Lenker, of Lower Swatara Township. “It’s a local business. I took all my little boys here.”

Mark Etter, of Lower Swatara Township, added that he’d been coming there since he was child in the 1960s.

“I don’t know how long I’ve been coming here,” Allan Baker, of Enola, said during his turn in the barber’s chair. “He’s a good guy. (My haircut) only takes him five minutes.”

Hoover is retiring because his barber shop, one of the plaza’s last surviving businesses, is slated for demolition early next year. Directly across from his shop is a four-story 87-room Comfort Inn & Suites Harrisburg Airport under construction, where other businesses also are planned.

Initially, Hoover planned to move his business to a new location nearby and keep working after the shop is torn down, but he’s since changed his mind.

“They wanted me to sign a five-year lease and I’m 75 years old,” he explained. “I haven’t had a lease in years.”

Hoover has seen a lot of stores come and go over the years at the Olmsted and former Jamesway plazas. The Jamesway discount store has been gone for years, along with Kresge’s, People’s Drug, and Joe the Motorist.

“This here shopping center was pretty nice,” Hoover said.

It doesn’t bother Hoover that his is the Olmsted Plaza’s only surviving business, save for a beauty shop next door that opens only by appointment.

“It’s been that way for so many years, I don’t even think about it,” he said. ‘I think it will be OK once they get some other stores here.”

None of Hoover’s customers said they knew offhand where they will go for haircuts after this.

“I’ve been coming here for 30 years. He’s an excellent barber,” Donald Karl, of Middletown, said as Hoover cut his hair. “I don’t know where I will go after this. There’s four or five other places around, but I just don’t know.”

Hoover, who lives in Lower Paxton Township, said he gets his own hair cut at a barbershop in Swatara Township.

“You can’t really cut your own hair,” he noted.

“Well, if that’s where Doug goes, maybe I’ll go there after this, too,” said patron Richard Hubert, of the Middletown Home.