July 6, 2020
Remington barber revives shop and fond memories
Photo/Don Del Rosso
Chris Morton gives his cousin Leonard Morton a haircut in the Remington barbershop that opened June 25.
I have a special head, and my cousin knows my head. I do not trust other barbers to touch my head. I just got a couple of unique angles, sways and dips.
— Leonard Morton
227 E. Main St., Remington.
8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday.
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As a teenager, the Remington barber learned to cut his own hair.
But Chris Morton, who last month opened Morton’s Barbershop at 227 E. Main St., never thought he’d turn that skill into a career — until he joined the Army in 1991.
During a seven-year military career, Mr. Morton worked as a “barracks’ barber” at bases in California, Georgia and Texas.
In those days, soldiers paid him $5 or gave him a six-pack of beer for a haircut, he said.
Knowing that the PX charged $3.50 per six-pack, Mr. Morton recognized an opportunity.
Unable to consume the amount of beer he got in exchange for haircuts, he devised a marketing plan that combined a cut and a cold one.
“I drank but not that much,” recalled Mr. Morton, laughing. “So what I would do is turn around and sell a beer for $2 as well as charging $5 for a haircut. When I could do that it was like, ‘Man, this is nice’.”
After he left the Army in 1997, he “researched” the income possibilities of professional barbering.
“When I saw how much they made in the civilian world, it was appealing,” said Mr. Morton, 46, who later attended barber school, completed an apprenticeship and earned a Virginia barber’s license in 2000.
Before opening Morton’s Barbershop, he cut hair in Manassas, renting a suite at Salon Plaza along Festival Lane.
With that agreement expiring in March, he started looking for space closer to his Culpeper home, Mr. Morton explained.
For lots of reasons, he couldn’t resist the vacant space at East Main and North Franklin streets in downtown Remington.
For one, the corner storefront holds a lot of sentimental value for him.
Mr. Morton, who grew up in Catlett, vividly remembers his boyhood days when he and family members would get haircuts from Andrew Jackson Jr. there.
Mr. Jackson operated a barbershop there from 1958 until his death in 1997, according to his granddaughter, Katlyn Jackson of Remington.
Eight years ago, Mr. Morton bought Mr. Jackson’s barber chair with a notion of using it someday.
But Mr. Morton had no reason to believe he eventually would install it in the old shop.
“This is Mr. Jackson’s chair,” he said, tapping it during an interview last Thursday. “It means a lot to me because in the late ’70s, early ’80s you didn’t get a haircut in a barbershop that often — at least we didn’t. So it was a special treat when we came here.”
Mr. Morton’s grandfather would take him, his brother and two cousins for haircuts at Jackson’s Barbershop, which had an old-fashioned soft-drink machine.
“Our grandfather would allow us to get a soda,” Mr. Morton remembered. “And next door was a little general store. And we would get us one bag of Wise potato chips. And usually we’d end up with a peach Nehi. And all four of us would split that. So it was like a big treat for us.”
Mr. Morton, who opened his shop on June 25, said he couldn’t be more pleased with the response.
“Everything’s going great,” he said. “It’s going better than I even expected. It’s exploded. I’m loving the shop. I’m loving the town and the warm reception.”
The day after Mr. Morton opened the shop Ms. Jackson brought him a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting that read “Congratulations On Your Shop Chris.”
“I wanted him to feel welcomed,” she said of the gesture. “Remington’s a small community. I feel like we’re thriving, because there’s so much going on, and I wanted him to feel part of that, too.”
Ms. Jackson, 28, added: “I wish for Chris to have the best memories in that place and want to see him succeed.”
Mr. Morton’s decision to use her grandfather’s barber chair “makes my heart melt,” Ms. Jackson said in a telephone interview. “And when I walked into the shop, it just brought back so many memories. It was almost like looking at Chris and seeing my grandpa right there.”
Because he concentrates on men’s haircuts and beard trims, for example, Mr. Morton brought in stylist April Ashcraft to serve female clients and to do braiding for both women and men.
They take clients by appointment only, because of the coronavirus pandemic, Mr. Morton said. His Facebook page provides a complete list of services and prices.
Leonard Morton, 50, of Manassas, stopped by his cousin’s shop last Thursday for a haircut.
“This guy cutting my hair in this shop is a good vision that has come to pass,”
said Leonard, reminiscing about the days when their grandfather took them to Jackson’s Barber shop. “It brings you right back. It’s a full story.”
Among barbers, his cousin has no peers, said Leonard, pastor of Culpeper’s Unity Baptist Church.
“We call him ‘Hands’ — meaning how he cuts, his professionalism,” Leonard said. “He’s just got the touch. I have a special head, and my cousin knows my head. I do not trust other barbers to touch my head. I just got a couple of unique angles, sways and dips.”
Opening a place in Remington, Mr. Morton entered a competitive market, which includes Remington Barbershop at the other end of Main Street, and Kimodi’s Barber Shop on James Madison Street.
That doesn’t concern him for the same reasons a Burger King follows a McDonald’s into a market.
“Something else to offer” people seeking options, Mr. Morton confidently explained. “They’re still going to make money.”
Remington also puts him in close proximity to a potentially endless supply of customers, he suggested.
“My philosophy is follow schools,” Mr. Morton said. “Within a 25-mile radius of here there are about five high schools. And then there’s the middle schools and elementaries and the fathers who take them to barbershops.
“Wherever there’s kids, you’re going to need haircuts. To me, there’s plenty of opportunities.”
He rents about 850 square feet of space from Bealeton resident Jim Cheatham, who bought the 102-year-old building in June 2017. Mr. Morton declined to discuss the details of his one-year lease.
The storefront previously housed a comic book shop. Today, an indoor-plant shop and upstairs apartments occupy other parts of the building.
Contact Don Del Rosso at Don@FauquierNow.com or 540-270-0300.
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SaraMalone · July 15, 2020 at 8:14 am
It's great news. Congratulations! At last, Mr Jackson's Barbershop open again. We all need to get inspiration from his efforts. I'm so glad that I'm a part of this community.
Rover 530 · July 9, 2020 at 1:49 pm
And the masks are where?
rdoo · July 7, 2020 at 5:22 am
“So what I would do is turn around and sell a beer for $2 as well as charging $5 for a haircut. When I could do that it was like, ‘Man, this is nice’.”
bmayers · July 6, 2020 at 4:04 pm
Congratulations, Mr. Morton. I am so glad to hear that Mr. Jackson's barbershop is open again and by someone who has fond memories of the place.
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