When Phil Martinez sat down for a haircut on Thursday, his barber Eddie told him he’s retiring.
“How old are you?” Phil asks.
Eddie tells him 75.
“How old am I?” Phil asks his daughter.
She tells him 86.
“And you’ve been coming here half that time!” Eddie interjects.
Then Phil’s daughter asks, “Who’s going to cut your hair after Eddie retires?”
“I’m going to go get you! I’m going to go to your house,” Phil promptly tells Eddie. “I’ll say, ‘Come on, Ed.’”
Phil might mean that.
You see, Eddie Lopez has been cutting hair for the same people, at the same place in Denver’s Santa Fe Arts District, for the last 55 years.
“When I started here, the name Jiggs was here already. The other barbers, I don’t know where they got it from. But it’s been Jiggs ever since,” Lopez says.
He somewhat recalls that changing the name would have been too expensive, at a time when Lopez was giving haircuts for a dollar and a quarter, just trying to keep open the business.
‘“The prices were so cheap, I could just barely make it. But I was single. I didn’t care.”
As time went on, Jiggs did, too, and little has changed in the shop since opening day in the 60s. The chairs are old-fashioned, covered in luggage-colored brown leather, wood paneling lines the walls, and the faces all look familiar.
“They like the haircuts. Or they like the barber. One of the two,” Lopez says.
He thinks a bit about how he’ll occupy his time, but he's hardly worried. Lopez already has plans to fish, and to travel.
He never imagined when he started that this, his first job, would be his last, but the barbershop seems to have become a home away from home. Lopez looks forward to the free time, but it's clear Jiggs is a place of routine and comfort.
“A lot of times, if I’m sick, and I come to work, and I get better,” he says. “You just have conversations with people and stuff like that, and you just forget about your sickness.”
Lopez sold his shop, at 836 Santa Fe Drive, with the help of former-Bronco-turned-real-estate-agent Billy Van Heusen. Lopez believes the space will be transformed into an art gallery with the sale.
“The streets have changed quite a bit. Nothing but art galleries now.”
Lopez remembers his neighbors as everything from clothing shops to drug stores, back when he started. The barbershop’s last day is Saturday.