San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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After 41 years of trims, shaves and regular customers, Lamar’s Barber Shop in downtown San Marcos closed up show this month after landlord Charles Waldrip ended the building’s lease. HAYS FREE PRESS PHOTO by KIM HILSENBECK


by KIM HILSENBECK

In 41 years, a barber can cut a lot of hair.

That’s exactly what Lamar LaCaze, 68, did at Lamar’s Barber Shop, a fixture in downtown San Marcos for more than four decades. He does good work as far as a cadre of regular customers were concerned. Though lean times and good, he made his rent one haircut at a time, he says.

LaCaze

LaCaze

“I started out with a lot of little kids’ haircuts. Now they are in their ‘50s,” LaCaze said.

In late August, LaCaze said he received a phone call from Charles Waldrip, the local insurance agent who owns the building where LaCaze has barbered for more than four decades. LaCaze and his wife, Lois, drove to San Marcos to hear the bad news face-to-face.

“I don’t break up with anybody on the phone,” LaCaze said. He tried to talk his landlord out of it to no avail. “‘It’s done,’ he told me. But I don’t think it was hostile.”

The little building at 114 N LBJ Drive has housed five barbers in the past 101 years, according to LaCaze’s oral history. In 1972, LaCaze bought the business from Sam “Slim” Stockton, who had bought it from the barber before him. Until now, the business has operated without interruption, handed off from one owner to the next, for more than a century, LaCaze said.

“We shut it down. It bothers us, but we felt we didn’t have a choice,” Lois LaCaze said.

Once they received notice to vacate the premises, LaCaze and his wife asked their three grown children to return to San Marcos and help them move everything out of the shop. They wanted to make sure their equipment didn’t fall into the hands of a new barber.

LaCaze said the landlord tried to lay claim to some of his barbershop furniture, which made LaCaze wonder why he would need it. LaCaze then discovered that one of his former barbers was setting up his own shop in the space they used to share.

“I talked to him a few times about buying the business. But now he doesn’t have to buy anything,” LaCaze said. Said Lois, “Nobody is buying the shop, but we’re kicked out.”

LaCaze’s apparent successor could not be reached for comment.

Waldrip would only say that the building is his and he is within his rights to terminate LaCaze’s lease. He said, “It’s my building, he had a 30-day notice of lease termination. It was my right. He could have terminated [the lease], too.”

Waldrip declined to discuss his plans for the building except to say, “There will be something there. It may be a barber.”

For the better part of the past 10 months, LaCaze has been out of work with a medical condition. He lost part of his foot along the way. But his team of barbers who stayed in the shop continued to keep business flowing, allowing LaCaze to pay the rent on time every month, he said. He had planned to return to work in September.

“We never missed a payment,” said Lois LaCaze, her voice cracking with emotion. “Not only is he losing his livelihood but if he had the option to sell, he’s lost that. People wanted to buy the shop. It stopped that legacy of being on The Square when he lost the lease.”

The couple says they will make this involuntary transition together just as they’ve always done during nearly 50 years of marriage. But closing down the shop has still been bittersweet, at best.

“We’ve had good times out of that shop. We raised three kids” there,” LaCaze said.

LaCaze has thought about looking for a shop to rent somewhere in Kyle, where he lives. But for now he is going to take it easy and focus on recovering from his recent health scare.

“I don’t know what to do with myself. I’m going to do something,” LaCaze said, adding later: “I love to barber.”

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KIM HILSENBECK is editor of the Hays Free Press where this story was originally published. It is reprinted here through a news partnership between the Free Press and the San Marcos Mercury.

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43 thoughts on “San Marcos barber closes downtown shop after 41 years

  1. There seems to be a lot of this going around San Marcos…a couple months back, the owner of the building where the Restless Wind once was did the exact same thing to them – he kicked them out (or rather, “declined to renew their lease”) and started another bar there in its place.

    I know it’s Waldrip’s building and he can do with it as he pleases, but his handling of this situation ensures that I won’t be buying insurance from him any time soon.

  2. I was interogated by an old Restless Winds fan the other day making sure I had not been to the new bar. I haven’t. And I won’t get a haircut at the new barber shop.

  3. This is so sad at least I got several haircuts there and that was one of the charms that drove me to move here. San Marcos is losing its charm one lost local business at a time.

  4. I was reading this article when suddenly I felt a great disturbance. Then I saw it… Dano. Had I written the comment in my sleep, perhaps? Was it my alter ego? No, for he does not go by that name. Could it be, that in the small(ish) town of San Marcos, there could be another? Maybe this other had taken over when I left. Does he look like me? Do we have the same laugh, same taste in clothes and music? Am I reading too much into this and missing the point of the article? Definitely. Represent us well, other Dano. Bonus points for spelling it correctly. Now GO! Spread our legacy.

  5. Seems to be the going trend of this once hopeful city: kill off small/local business, build apartments that destroy neighborhoods, and cater those who will be leaving the broken city in 5 years anyway. Might be adding to the tax base at the moment, but this strategy will bite San Marcos eventually. Capacity at TXST will be reached and growth won’t continue because we do nothing for those that choose to make this place our home.

  6. My dad took my brothers there for haircuts on Saturdays for years (Slim’s too). Sometimes I got to go with them and was fascinated with everything…the smells, all the bottles of after-shave and just watching the skill and patience the barbers had when the Hinze boys filled up every vacant chair! Sad to see your shop close Mr. LaCaze.

  7. The only way to combat Dirtbags like these is to refuse to do business with them, and encourage others to join the boycott. What they are doing is unjust and if the only thing they care about is money, then lets make it awful difficult for them to see any.

  8. 41 years of loyal tenancy – and this is what you get from Mr. Waldrip in return.
    Just imagine what Mr. Waldrip is doing with your insurance rates!

  9. It’s sad that some people start talking or making comments and don’t know all the facts. Do you call that ignorance or childish? People who really know the other barber in question, know that he is no way the kind of person who would go behind your back and do something wrong to anyone. I think when the whole truth comes out, people will have a better understanding of what really happend.

  10. Insurance companies rely on the “trust” and “loyalty” of their customers. Too bad Mr. Waldrip doesn’t feel the same way. 41 YEARS of rent and nothing to show for it. Sorry Mr. LaCaze and BOO to you Mr. Waldrip. I’m running out of insurance companies – I already left Bill Taylor because of his P&Z votes, now Mr. Waldrip is off the list too. While Mr. Waldrip can rent his building to whoever he wants, his insurance customers can choose to buy insurance from wherever they want.

  11. Mr. Waldrip SHOULD be ashamed! I’ve known Lois and Lamar (and their families) since 1973 and spent a bit of time in the barber shop, too…he used always give me and my brother (and, I assume, all other children that came to the shop) pennies for the gumball machine when daddy (or my brother) was finished getting his haircut. The story just makes me sad…and, yes, as the owner Mr. Waldrip has the right to lease to whomever he chooses, this was not the way to go about it…he knew along he was going to open another barbershop in that space. I know my daddy won’t be going back there…and I’m sure many of Lamar’s customers won’t either.

  12. Hi, Edra, thanks for your reminder of your beloved family and the olden days here. I left town in 1965 while it was still Slim’s Barber Shop. Mr. Stockton, Mr. Cochran and Mr. Luerson manned the three chairs there. Mom took me once a week whether I needed it or not, usually on Thursdays. I am sorry that Lamar lost his lease–it is the severing of just one more tie to what was once a better San Marcos.

  13. It is unbelievable that Mr.Waldrip is treating Lamar like this after 41 years. My husband got his first haircut from Slim and my son got his first haircut from Lamar. It seems like every year one of our local landmarks closes or gets shut down. Who’s next? I hope the locals choose not to go to the new barber shop, who I am guessing is going to be run by Rudy. Lets try and pass along to friends and family Mr. Waldrip’s poor treatment to one of our local business owners.

  14. WOW! I am not sure of what else to say besides, WOW! Having grown up in San Marcos, I know that I, along with at least 30-40 of my highschool friends and classmates were in that shop at least once a week during highschool alone! After joining the Navy….every single time I come back to San Marcos on leave, I am in the shop…. I ALWAYS make it a point to go in! We ensured that our son got his first haircut there at the shop. As a matter of fact, my wife waited until I came back from Iraq so I could be there….. to drive home and get my boy his first hair cut at Lamar’s! I am very sad to hear that when my family and I come home the next time from our current overseas assignment…. there will not be Lamar’s. Yet another reason that my family and I are likely to NOT retire back in the once nice city of San Marcos, TX! Darn shame…..

  15. As a divorced mom I used to take my young son (he’s now 28)there and ask Lamar to give him “a little boy haircut”. Then I’d step outside so he could hang w/the guys in the man cave. It was a traditional barber shop and felt like something out of small town America. Classic, no-nonsense haircut and gumball for the kid.

  16. Enrique,

    If you have information that the rest of us aren’t privy to, please do share. It contributes absolutely nothing to the dialog when people say “just wait until you know what *I* know.”

    What we know is: after leasing a property to a tenant for 41 years, and despite the tenant building a landmark business of sorts in that location and never missing a rent payment, the landlord recently chose not to renew the lease (with the minimum notice required by law, no less) and is now seemingly allowing an identical business to run in that location instead. Of course Waldrip won’t confirm that – he would rather play coy.

    I *suspect* the new barbershop will be paying a higher rent to Waldrip, and perhaps Waldrip will even have a stake in the new shop…..because other than a money grab, there is no other reason for this to have happened – and in the meantime, he has cost a family their chance to sell the business they worked so hard to build with only the courtesy of a 30 day notice.

    So yeah, unless there’s more – much more – to this story that you’re willing to share, I think that what we know is enough to brand Waldrip as a jerk not deserving of our patronage.

  17. Anyone on a month-to-month lease should understand the risk. Maybe Mr. Waldrip wouldn’t agree to a longer term lease. Maybe Mr. LaCaze would not agree to reasonable rent increases. Maybe Mr. Waldrip got a bad haircut and this is his revenge. Whatever the case, if you’re renting month-to-month it should keep you awake at night. LaCaze never had a bankable asset because he had no lease. Furthermore, old-timey barbershops like that are a dying institution. They’re so old they’ve been resurected as new again in Austin as “Floyd’s Barbershop” where hipsters go to pay double so they can be part of the scene. Maybe LaCaze can thow in with a couple guys and lease some other space in town. I wish him good luck but I don’t feel too sorry for him or too upset with Waldrip, especially when we only have half the story.

  18. SM since 95: If the lease was being “terminated,” then there was a lease. And you apparently haven’t bothered to read all of the above comments. This business had quite the loyal clientele. This place was not a dying institution. People were continuing to patronize it.

    Or, perhaps, being here since 1995, just isn’t long enough to get the feel of an area and appreciate its traditions – at least, not for you. So, just keep going to your franchise salons to get your haircuts. I’m certain you look “good enough,” it cost you minimum, the people who work there are paid barely a living wage, and the salon looks just like the ones in all of the other towns. Maybe that makes you feel more secure.

  19. Lila, aren’t you from Kyle? For a man, a haircut is like putting gas in the pickup – it’s not really all that critical where you go. Whatever shop is in my path when a) I need a haircut and b) I have 30 minutes to spare. I DID read all the comments and at first was quite moved but then I got to thinking about it from a business perspective. And also accepted that we only have half the story. So I thought I’d make a contrary post to get thing riled up a little bit. So thanks for playing along. Some people take smoke breaks, I take Mercury breaks and this gives me something to chew on.

  20. I don’t know if I buy the gas in the pickup analogy. Even when I was just getting a high and tight, some barbers were better at it than others.

    Thankfully, I just shave it now.

    I always used to go to Sanchez Barber Shop, on Invasion St, but it is discouraging to see another familiar sight disappear, especially if business was still good enough to keep the doors open.

    Maybe Lamar can open a new location on the square, or maybe he’ll go off and enjoy his retirement.

    Either way, thanks for being part of what makes San Marcos special. I wish I had a dollar for everyone I knew who went to Lamar’s, students and non-students alike.

  21. If it was a long term lease Waldrip could not have terminated it without Lamar’s approval. Therefore, the lease must have expired or was a month to month lease. To you people who are upset with Waldrip: You are bitter people. Do you really think you should have a say in the affairs of what a private property owner does with his or her property? Should you decide how long a tenant stays for some other persons property? Do you forget that Waldrip has a very long history with this town also? If you want to do something, try to buy the barber shop from him instead of whining about decisions you know nothing about.

  22. A couple times I went to “Los Enojados” in Springtown Mall. That was the nickname “The Angry Men” because all the barbers there had had some kind of falling out and never talked to each other. I went to Lamar’s once and the guy would cut for five seconds, talk for 30 seconds, cut a second, talk for 30 more. Who has time for that?

  23. It is true that there may be other issues involved in the transaction. Having said that, I have known the LaCaze family since they came to Kyle many years ago, and have always found them to be honorable people. I simply refuse to believe that something could not have been worked out between the landlord and this tenant. Lamar LaCaze and his fine family have enriched both Kyle and San Marcos and will receive none of the bad will generated through this shabby deal. Mr. Waldrip will regret his actions someday.

  24. The script told in the story makes it pretty clear that Lamar had no idea this was coming and also that he did not want it to happen. The quotes from Waldrip also make his view on the topic pretty clear.

    If Waldrip had another offer on the table, the honorable thing to do would have been to approach Lamar with an opportunity to match it. The fact that he didn’t speaks volumes. Instead, he simply told Lamar “It’s done.”

    Then he tried to lay claim to some of the barbershop equipment???? If the tenant was current on his lease payments, why would the landlord have claim to any of the tenant’s equipment? Come on Waldrip, if you’re intent on setting up your own barbershop in that place, can’t you at least buy your own equipment?

    After cutting Lamar out in the cold, Waldrip allows one of his former employees to open up shop in that same place….a move that ensured that Lamar would not receive any sort of buyout for his business (a buyout that had been negotiated before) and put the new barber in a position to “assume” the business without properly paying for it. This is the shadiest move of all…when a man builds something, he deserves the chance to sell it, not be screwed out of it by a greedy landlord and former employee. I wonder how much extra rent Waldrip gets per month on the place since he saved the new owner a monthly note payment?

    So yeah, there is another side to the story. But Waldrip was given a chance to tell his side and he chose to only say “that was my right” and wise crack that the new business in that space “may be a barber”. That doesn’t sound like he has much to stand on other than his own arrogance.

    He may have “had a right” to do what he did, but what he did was not right. He didn’t do right by Lamar or Lamar’s customers, and people will rightly remember that. Some of us still believe that there are more important principles in business than making a buck at all costs….

  25. San Marcos has been enriched by some great citizens who were good barbers. There was Mr. Bragg, Jerry Zavesky, Barton Gill, Jimmy Scoggins, Slim Stockton, Wink Tyler, and the list continues.

    Hays County has lost more than a barber shop. A slice of its character is gone.

    Perhaps our County Commissioners could designate a Barber’s Day to recognize these good people.

  26. I was born at Central Texas Medical Center, grew up in the San Marcos school system and attended Texas State University. Its safe to say nobody loves San Marcos the way i do, but protesting the closure of every small business that can’t sustain itself in a growing(very rapidly) economy is ignorant. You are causing more division in a community when we need to come together the most. Don’t resist change. Understand that change WILL happen, no matter how hard you comment on internet stories. Get out and vote in the local elections if you want to make a difference.

  27. Wanna prove your point. This fundraising campaign has been started for Lamar LaCaze. Once done, Lamar will have funds to “Move Forward”. Show your support for the Lamar! Post and keep reposting on every website you can until deadline!

    100% of funds will be given directly to Lamar LaCaze.

  28. 41 years open ,but all good things must come to an end. I’m along time customer but the truth is he was on a month to month rent, so yes ,he should of known that this could of happen to him. Most of the time he wasn’t even there. The barber that was there was the one who was holding down the fort. If he would of put something down on paper in black in white , then he wouldn’t be in this situation plain and simple. Every time I would go in there, that place looked like it was falling apart and needed a remodel anyway. If he cared so much about this place, then clean the place up! Place looked like he didn’t give a dam about it. If it is a new barber, I bet this place would look a lot cleaner and a more professional environment. Lets be honest, Lamar cut a lot of hair, but he wasn’t the best at it. This place was a place ready to be closed. The owner made a smart move to keep his building and rent it to somebody who can keep up with the business. Someone who will be there all the time to make sure things are in tiptop condition.

  29. I used to trade bluecats caught in the San Marcos river for haircuts with “Slim” Stockton. I believe Lamar was working there at that time, too.Very sorry to hear you have been so mistreated over your lease>

  30. That place was tired, old , dirty, smelly, and falling apart! How can this be called lamars when the guy wasnt even there half the time? The time I did see him there, he would stay for about an hour and go? He may have been good at one point but that place needed to go! Why do you people act like he was the best barbar in san marcos? 41 years of cutting hair and still not good at it. Sorry for the lost but you had to go already. Those old john wayne pictures had to go too! Good job for the owner to take away the building when he did, lamar wasnt taken care of the dam thing more less be there to help cut hair. 41 years of making money and he couldn’t save alittle to fix his business up? Now thats just greedy!

  31. Interesting the way people behave. I take note of the fact that Lamar has some critics posting here. Funny that they felt more comfortable posting anonymously than using their names. Kind of cowardly if you get my drift. I also note that these cowardly posters find themselves outnumbered by a substantial margin. There is a good chance that Mr. Waldrip already regrets his decision and will come to be more sorry than he is today. That is sort of the way things work when we do things “because we can.” People resent arrogance.

  32. Donn, thanks for making the comment that I have made for years regarding how anonynimity makes some people so eager to say things they wouldn’t have the guts to say otherwise. I understand anonymous postings, I just don’t believe in it. Lamar and Slim before him and all the barbers mentioned by you brought a lot to San Marcos both in conversation and character (let’s not forget Rudy). I saw one post that said the place was falling apart and dirty and smelly. To anyone reading this, that is not true. Simply not true. It was a barber shop not a hair salon. When the final analysis is done, people will be more remembered for what they have contributed to this community, things like life’s lessons learned from a barber than some anonymous posting. BTW, who wrote the sign in the picture with Lamar’s name misspelled?

  33. Whoever the new barber, and I do suspect it very well could be Rudy, why not man up and buy the man’s business? That would be the honorable thing to do. The landlord could then have signed a long term lease, Lamar could have the dignity of retiring with his business sold like he had done by buying out Slim, and the new guy would have a business with established clientele and the equipment. Yes, I have had my hair cut there for years by Rudy, Lamar, and Joe. I favored Joe, but let whoever was there cut my hair, or what little there was/is of it. It didn’t smell funny, that’s the stuff that barber’s used to put in a guy’s hair. I will miss it as a glimpse of the past, including the John Wayne shtick.

  34. One other thing ought to be recognized. Lamar has been dealing with major health issues over the past several years.

  35. @ Charles Soechting My dad Rudy Alvarado actually did need to steal any business from anyone he worked hard for his business for over 40yrs. He was great friends with the surrounding barbers. Second my grandpa Henry Sr passed away over 30yrs ago, my father Rudy Alvarado passed away January 2012 way before this was published. So before you make accusations about MY family please be quite and have your facts strait!

  36. @ Jon Thompson My dad Rudy Alvarado actually did need to steal any business from anyone he worked hard for his business for over 40yrs. He was great friends with the surrounding barbers. Second my grandpa Henry Sr passed away over 30yrs ago, my father Rudy Alvarado passed away January 2012 way before this was published. So before you make accusations about MY family please be quite and have your facts strait!

  37. Hi Cristal, please read what I wrote about your father and grandfather. What I said was that they brought a great deal to their profession and San Marcos. Your dad was my friend and cut my hair for
    many years.

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