After almost 53 years of operation, Golden Shears, Menlo Park's old-fashioned barbershop, closed its doors for the last time on Sunday, Jan. 10.
The antique barber chairs, which dated from the 1890s, have been stripped from the building, leaving the black-and-white tiled floor barren of customers and their hair clippings for the first time since the shop opened in 1963.
The business was for sale during December, but owner Louis Arenas said it didn't sell.
At 85 years young, or what he calls "fifty-eight, backwards," Mr. Arenas was matter-of-fact about the shop's closure.
"It hurts," he said. "But that's the way it is."
He says he's also hoping to reopen the barbershop somewhere else, with the same name, nearby if possible.
"Like I said, I'm not giving up," he said. "I'll find something to keep going and doing what I like doing. Golden Shears will start again," he said.
Mr. Arenas lives in Santa Clara and as of the Almanac's reporting in December, will plan to stay there for now, though a son in Arizona has offered him a place where he can retire.
Mr. Arenas declined to comment on details of the shop's lease agreement.
In October, three barbers from Golden Shears Sam Valero, Woody Jackson, and Yvonne Soliz departed to launch their own barbershop, the Menlo Park Barber Shop, located at 2100 Avy Ave. in West Menlo Park.
Of the three barbers who remained at Golden Shears, two will relocate to Hair Mill, at 1050 Chestnut St. in Menlo Park, and the other, Ray Lasoya, will join the barbers at the Menlo Park Barber Shop, according to Mr. Valero, owner of the new barbershop.
The closure of Golden Shears, said Mr. Valero, is a reflection of what is happening in Silicon Valley, as increases in the cost of retail space drive out small businesses. When Mr. Arenas started Golden Shears, Santa Cruz Avenue was full of "mom and pop" small businesses, said Mr. Valero, who worked at Golden Shears for 14 years.
There had been signs for years that the space was too big, starting when the building was sold to Wilbur Properties in 2008, Mr. Valero said. Thanks to the downturn in the economy at the time and vacancies on Santa Cruz Avenue, the owners negotiated a three-year lease until 2011, and then a five-year lease that was set to end in May 2016.
However, after its neighbor, the Sugar Shack, closed and Mr. Valero learned the new patisserie Mademoiselle Colette was paying a premium per square foot, he said he "knew by then that (Golden Shears) couldn't survive as a barber shop in such a big space."
Property manager Anne Wilbur, of Wilbur Properties, said that Mr. Arenas had problems paying the rent. "I don't think he could afford it, sadly enough," she said. Though, she added, "It was his decision to close."
Ms. Wilbur said there are no current plans for Golden Shears location.
Though Golden Shears is closing, the full-service approach to barbering the shop signified will be carried on by the numerous local barbers who began their careers at Golden Shears, said Mr. Valero.
Mr. Arenas, he said, is the "Bill Walsh of barbering."
Like famed 49ers and Stanford football coach Bill Walsh, Louis Arenas' "coaching tree" has generated a wide network of professional barbers.
All four of the barbers at the new Menlo Park Barber Shop will have come from Golden Shears, and the owner of Moses Hair Styling on Crane St. also worked for Mr. Arenas at Golden Shears before launching his own shop, Mr. Valero said. Those barbers relied on Golden Shears to build up a loyal clientele "where people stayed like no other," he said. "They stayed for decades."
"We'll always be thankful to Louis for bringing us in, for being an extremely good boss, patient and unselfish," he said. "We're hoping the best."
Barbering runs in Mr. Arenas' family tree, too: four of his five brothers are also barbers, plus nine other family members, including his granddaughter.
While Mr. Arenas said the closure is not the end of Golden Shears, he said in the meantime, he wishes his customers "a lot of luck to find another place," he said.
He would like to give his clientele "a big thank you" and express his appreciation for the loyal customers at Golden Shears.
The barbershop, he said, was named "best barbershop" at least 12 times in the Almanac's annual Readers' Choice awards poll.