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INTERVIEW By Phil Scoble By the Dart INTERVIEW Ben Perry


OLD FASHIONED BARBERS, 21ST CENTURY SUCCESS.


THeRe Is AN OPeN seCReT IN DARTMOuTH: NesTLeD ALONG HIGHeR sTReeT Is AN esTABLIsHMeNT WHICH MANY MeN OF DARTMOuTH FReQueNT.


you wait, you sit down, you ask for shorter hair, and after a few minutes and a nice chat you walk out with a perfectly sculptured hair cut. It has been run, quietly and efficiently, for more than a decade by father and son team John and Ben Perry, with Ben at the helm. “It’s brilliant for us both, coming across on the ferry to work,” says Ben, as he clears up after a busy Friday session. “It certainly beats sitting in a traffic jam on the m25!” That day had been especially


I


busy: supposedly open at 9am, Ben arrived at their Higher Street rooms at 8.45am to find men waiting on the street for his arrival. He did not stop until 2.35pm when I stroll up for our scheduled interview. He sweeps up hair and tidies the little room that overlooks Lower Street as we chat, as contented as a man can be in his work.


“Dartmouth is a bit special,” he


said. “We have another shop in Torquay and although it’s great, I think here you get to know the customers better. Today I knew the names of the majority of those men coming through the door and knew a bit about them. It makes the job that bit


t is a good old fashioned barber’s shop and provides the perfect service for a certain type of man: you turn up without booking,


more personal and enjoyable too.” John Perry has had a business in


Torquay for more than 30 years – a concern he set up after more than 15 years working for L’Oréal in the Midlands and around the country. He toured the country and was at the top of his profession, but wanted to live somewhere beautiful and chose to come to Torquay with his wife Anne.


Today I knew the names of the majority of those men coming through the door and knew a bit about them.


He started ‘The Village Barbershop’ and began to build his business very successfully. A second shop followed and things were going nicely. His son Ben was growing up fast and finding he hadn’t got a clue what he wanted to do with his life. “Dad got me in the shop one


Saturday and said - ‘Look, until you work out what you want to do in life, stand behind me there and watch me cut hair. If you learn that at least you’ll always have a trade,” Ben says. It was the only trade he needed. Soon, Ben was cutting in the shop


at weekends. I ask how nervous he was when cutting someone’s hair for the first time.


“SO nervous!” he laughs. “You are so hesitant in everything you do. People care so much about their hair, and you need to be quite close to them, so you become so nervous to start with. I didn’t want to pull people’s hair too much, or cut too much off even. But I had the old man behind me saying - Don’t be scared! Cut it! It’ll be ok! And after a while you start to build your confidence. it is definitely a skill, with men’s hair, because you have so little margin for error. Having said that I respect anyone who can work with long hair because i find that such a challenge!” “Actually, even more nerve-


wracking was using the cut-throat razor on a client for the first time, although you soon learn that’s one of the most straightforward skills.” Soon Ben was off to college to


take exams in his new profession, although he said he still learnt more from his father on Saturdays than in all the time he was at college. Both shops continued to thrive, until one member of their staff wanted to step up, and they arranged for him to take over the running of one of the shops. This freed them up to look for more opportunities. “One day Dad was cutting the hair of a gentleman who was involved in the Freemason’s Lodge in Dartmouth. He said that they had a room at the


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