As Mike Kelly sits down in the barber’s chair, he starts to recall the good old days.
He recounts his first visit to Mike’s Sportsman Barber Shop nearly 58 years ago.
Not a lot has changed, except for some of the faces and the hands working on his hair.
Kelly has had three generations of Turners cut his hair.
Today, it’s Mike Turner working the scissors. Turner took over running the barber shop from his father, Mike Turner Sr., after his dad suffered a stroke in 1994.
While Turner Sr. and his wife still own the shop, it’s Turner who tackles the daily labour.
His sister, Paula Turner, works on the other side of the shop doing hair dressing.
Today, it’s just the two of them, but family has come and gone as well as close family friend Phil ‘the barber’ Micklethwaite who worked in the shop for nearly 50 years before retiring last year. In some ways, though, it’s like he never left. His name is still magnetized to the mirror where his work station used to be.
“We can’t take Phil down,” Turner says.
Micklethwaite has known the Turner family since their days in England. Turner’s grandfather, Peter Turner, moved to Campbell River in 1957 after originally immigrating from England to the Lower Mainland.
Peter chose barbering over farming on the Mainland and purchased a small barber shop near where Tyee Marine is now on Pier Street.
After taking over ownership of the business, Turner changed the name and moved the barber shop to its existing location, in the former Bee Hive restaurant.
It’s been there ever since.
But Turner, a jack of all trades, eventually grew restless and turned the business over to his son, Mike Turner Sr., once he turned 18. Turner Sr., who had apprenticed as a barber back in England when he was just 14, took over ownership of the barber shop in 1966.
Turner started in 2001 and his sister, Paula, in 2000.
“There’s a lot of history, being third generation,” says Turner who started at the barber shop after being laid off from a previous job. “I enjoy being my own boss and following in my dad’s footsteps.”
Another perk is meeting all of the people who come through the shop, including tourists who come from around the world and share stories about their history and culture.
The shop has even had some notable visitors over the years.
Turner recalls his parents and their friends piling into the old Bee Hive restaurant at the end of the day to listen to Red Robinson’s Show Theatre radio show.
Turner says on more than one occasion they would phone in to the show and invite Robinson to come to Campbell River for a beer.
“One day, he actually showed up at the shop,” Turner says.
His dad also used to cut pro wrestler ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper’s uncle’s and his dad’s hair, as well as former NHL-er Kelly Hrudey’s uncle’s hair.
Turner says he believes the shop is successful because of its loyal client base and the fact that the barber shop is so timeless.
“That’s the great thing, we’ve kept it very traditional,” Turner says. “Like a typical barber shop, you just walk in, wait your turn. It’s a modern day service but also an old traditional business.”
And the shop keeps on ticking.
The business is closing in on its 60th anniversary next year and Turner isn’t planning on going anywhere.
“It’s pretty cool being a third generation barber and it being your family’s shop,” Turner says. “I basically grew up here.”