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Barber Shop! Almost six decades of cutting hair and living Detroit history

  • After 59 years cutting men's hair, Sam Zoella is still smiling
  • Sam Zoella cutting hair in downtown Detroit
  • Sam's Barber Shop in the Dime Building Chrysler House

That’s how Sam Zeolla has answered the phone at his shop in the Chrysler House (formerly known as the Dime Building) for 59 years.

To give you an idea, when Sam started cutting men’s hair after coming back from the Korean war, that was nine mayors ago. City hall was across the street, where the Marketing Associates building now stands. There was no Ren Cen, and you could take a streetcar all the way down Woodward.

Sam Zoella cutting hair in downtown DetroitIn 1954, the City of Detroit had about double the population it has today, but people like Sam remind you it hasn’t lost an ounce of its spirit.

“I’ve never left this building. I was on 11, then for a year they moved me to 13, now, I’m here,” said Zeolla of his second floor space in one of the most beautiful lobbies in the region, recently restored to grandeur.

Talking to him as office workers walk past (there have been more and more of them over the last couple of years) he’s seen a lot in his almost six decades of cutting men’s hair, including many changes. “Downtown was really the place to be back then. But Dan Gilbert has been great. He’s bringing the people back. The building is now 90% occupied,” he said.

That’s the great thing about Sam. It’s smiles. It’s stories. Music from the AM radio station playing reminds you of days gone by.

After 59 years cutting men's hair, Sam Zoella is still smilingSam’s Barber Shop is how a barber shop should be. No gimmicks, no TV’s, no screaming commercials, just camaraderie and a hair cut. See, Zoella may be small in physical stature but he has the memory for people of an elephant. When in the waiting area, you see him light up when his customers come in.

“I love people, I have people who’ve been coming to me for years,” says a very humbled Zoella. He’s a man who is truly thankful for everyone who comes in the door.

Oh, and don’t forget to call ahead if you’re going to come down. Appointments are available by calling (313) 961-7373. Sit in the chair to meet one of the kindest guys in the city, not to mention a living part of Detroit’s history.

It may just be the best $15 you ever spent.

VIDEOS OF 1954 DOWNTOWN DETROIT

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2 comments on “Barber Shop! Almost six decades of cutting hair and living Detroit history

  1. Sam is the best!

    A Detroit icon.

    Best ole-fashion straight blade shave in the city!

    $10 bucks. Worth $20 bucks!

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