After the death of Puyallup business owner Ray Colburn in January, those who frequented Mirror Barber Shop downtown were unsure of the fate of the business.
But according to Mirror Barber Shop new owner Jon Hart, they shouldn’t worry. Hart, who lives in University Place, reopened Mirror Barber Shop on April 4 with very little changes.
He said he intends to keep at the heart of the shop the legacy that came before him.
“I just felt in my heart that it needed to stay a barber shop,” said Hart, 37. “I don’t want to take it too far away from what it was because of the rich history here.”
Never miss a local story.
I just felt in my heart that it needed to stay a barber shop. I don’t want to take it too far away from what it was because of the rich history here.
Jon Hart, new owner of Mirror Barber Shop
Having known Colburn for around seven years, Hart knew about that history. In 2011, Hart graduated from the Barber Program at Bates Technical College, where Colburn was a member of the advisory board. Several years after, Hart was invited back to serve alongside Colburn as a board member.
“I’ve had lots of students,” said Jeff Olson, instructor in the Barber Program at Bates. “I’ve been doing this for over 30 years but (Hart) was here every day, never missed a day.”
Together, Hart and Colburn aided teachers and students with the direction of the classes and often talked about new and old trends in the barber industry.
Meanwhile, Hart was cutting hair at Maplewood Barber Shop in Puyallup, where he worked for five years. When he found out Colburn was suffering from some health problems, he worried.
“When Ray got sick in December, I’d drive by (Mirror Barber Shop) every day just to check,” Hart said. “I’d sit in that chair and just watch him cut hair.”
One day, Hart noticed the shop had closed down. Not long after, he received a call from Olson, who informed him of Colburn’s death.
“Everything just stopped in that moment,” Hart said. “It was pretty shocking and sad. I really feel for his wife and his family.”
A week later, Hart called Colburn’s wife to offer his condolences. He began to think, along with many others, about the fate of the business.
“I thought, ‘What’s going to happen with the shop?’” he said.
From a young age, Hart dreamed of owning his own barber shop. As a third-generation barber, he grew up with memories of hanging out in his grandfather’s barber shop in Tacoma.
“My mom said if you’re too sick to go to school, you have to go to the barber shop with your grandfather,” Hart said. “Ninety percent of the time, I wasn’t sick.”
My mom said if you’re too sick to go to school, you have to go to the barber shop with your grandfather. Ninety percent of the time, I wasn’t sick.
Hart remembered hanging out in the shop, reading magazines and chatting with visitors and customers.
Hart moved to Eastern Washington at the end of elementary school. As he grew up, he thought about what he wanted to do after school and began talking with a school counselor.
“I really didn’t have any direction, so we started talking about trade schools,” Hart said.
Hart decided he wanted to enroll in a barber program, and moved back to Tacoma. When Bates Technical College told him he had to be 19 years old to enroll — a requirement that has since changed — he got involved in the automobile industry as a sales and finance manager.
“I loved it. It was great,” Hart said. “I thought I’d do that the rest of my life.”
When Hart lost his job years later, he reevaluated his options after a chat with his grandmother.
“She said, ‘When you were a little kid you wanted to be a barber like your grandfather,’” Hart said. “Do you ever think about that anymore? And I said no, I didn’t.”
But the idea stuck, and at the end of February, he took the first step toward his dream by purchasing the Mirror Barber Shop space.
“I’ve kept pretty much everything the same,” Hart said about the space. “The first month is going to be a trial, see if the hours work well for the community.”
Jean Colburn, Ray’s wife, said she thinks the shop is in good hands.
“He knew my husband, he worked for my husband for a short while, so he came highly recommended,” Jean said.
Already, friends and customers of Colburn’s have stopped by the shop, glad to see it still there.
I’m thrilled. I didn’t want that shop to go away… That’s the best thing — if something good can come from bad, this is it.
Jeff Olson, Barber Program instructor at Bates Technical College
“I’m thrilled,” Olson said. “I didn’t want that shop to go away… That’s the best thing — if something good can come from bad, this is it.”
Mirror Barber Shop on 111 W. Meeker in downtown Puyallup is now open.
Hart has some ideas for freshening up the space moving forward, but said they’re all minor. He hopes to dedicate a wall of the shop for articles and mementos about Colburn.
“I’d like to carry on the legacy that Ray established,” Hart said. “I think that’s important to the community.”