Haley Vananh is ready to lay down her scissors.
Vananh took over the barbershop about seven years ago, but the store has been at 272 Cedar Lane since at least the 1980s under three previous owners, including the late founder Charles Wright.
A business profile for the store indicates that it was founded in 1984. Vananh says Wright opened it after serving in the Navy.
“I don’t know much about the history here. I just know stories from customers, older customers,” Vananh said. “They tell me…this barber shop been here since this shopping center opened.”
While she has loved running the store, Vananh says it has become unsustainable since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in the spring of 2020, upending customers’ habits even as rent keeps going up.
With more people working from home, customers have been inclined to go three to four months between haircuts, rather than getting one every few weeks, according to Vananh. She says kids have also been letting their hair grow longer.
At the same time, rent for the 525-square-foot space has been increasing every year. With the current lease concluding on Aug. 31, Vananh says she unsuccessfully asked the landlord for a reduced price, noting that the business’ location inside the shopping center makes it tricky for customers to find.
First Washington Realty, which owns Cedar Park, didn’t return FFXnow’s requests for comment.
Vananh told FFXnow she has enjoyed the freedom of running her own business, and many regular customers have become more like friends, but considering the challenges facing the shop, she believes the time has come to retire.
“[It’s a] little bit sad, but…after I pay for the rent and utilities, there’s not much left. So, why do it?” Vananh said. “I keep telling my customers: try to understand, if I work for somebody else three days a week, I make more money than I do today, and now, I work six to seven days a week.”
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