Look well – Barbershop celebrates 50 years
The Langford family was supposed to do this last year.
The family planned to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Langford Barber Shop, located on on Hosea L. Williams Drive in Kirkwood. But David, the son of the original owner Willie David Langford Sr., passed away.
David Sr.’s picture hangs on the wall. He wears a brown bowler hat on his head and sun glasses.
Above his head there’s a quote that says, “It pays to look well.”
When David Jr. passed, the family postponed the 50th anniversary celebration and officially celebrated it on June 14. They thanked their long-time customers, serving food and playing music while they reminisced.
The store started in Edgewood, but moved to Kirkwood in 1971, where it has remained ever since.
LaMichael Langford, David Sr.’s nephew, is the co-owner and has taken over the leadership responsibilities. His sister, Cynthia Hines, is the company’s CEO.
“I’m proud to be able to continue the legacy,” Hines said.
LaMichael Langford began working at the shop shining shoes when he was 14. He went to barber college at 16. There are eight employees at the shop, and the client list spans generations.
Langford said cutting hair is, “In my blood.” He compared his satisfaction to the smile on a mechanic’s face when he takes a bent up car and makes it look new again.
“I love to see the transformation of people,” Langford said. “When they come and leave out, they look different. They have a different aspect about life.”
Things in Kirkwood look different now than they did back in the 70s. White people are moving back into the neighborhood. Across the street, customers enjoyed a cool drink on the patio of Elmyriachi, the latest addition to Kirkwood’s increasingly busy business district.
Langford sees a more diverse clientele walking through his door.
“We’ve picked up a lot of different types, nationality of customers, since whites started moving back into the neighborhood,” he said. “The neighborhood has gotten cleaner, more police presence and a lot of white customers since they moved in. We cater to everybody. Everybody.”
The people, his customers, are what Langford likes the most about his job. His counts among his customers Anthony Carter, a retired NBA player who lived in Kirkwood and played for several different teams, and Richard Dent, a retired NFL player who spent most of his career with the Chicago Bears.
Barber Stanley Kellam stood by a chair near the shop’s front door and put the finishing touches on Jeff Ardford’s beard. Kellam has been working at the barbershop for 38 years and Ardford has been a customer since he was five years old.
“This is all I know,” Ardford said. “It’s the only place I’m going to get it done right.”