Golden Shears barbershop closes after 53 years in Menlo Park


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.

'Coach' Arenas

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.

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2 people like this
Posted by Steve Taffee
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 12, 2016 at 5:15 pm

Moses Hairstyling, around the corner on Crane from Golden Shears, is also closing towards the end of the month. Perhaps the era of the barbershop is coming to an end. <sigh>

Like this comment
Posted by Cut
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 12, 2016 at 7:05 pm

Too bad. I wish Woody and the others success in carrying on a great service.

Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 12, 2016 at 7:12 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"Moses Hairstyling, around the corner on Crane from Golden Shears, is also closing towards the end of the month."


1 person likes this
Posted by MA Chron
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Jan 12, 2016 at 9:40 pm

A review of the the new Menlo Park Barber shop that spun out from Golden Shears
Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Wayne's World
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jan 12, 2016 at 10:30 pm

Does anyone know where Wayne Slocum is practicing his tonsorial skills?

Like this comment
Posted by Catherine
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 13, 2016 at 10:06 pm

Catherine is a registered user.

Sam Valero is as warm to his new customers today as he was when he gave my son his very first haircut 17 years ago. He is a wonderful, personable, gracious, small-town-loving young man, who was smart to know exactly when to leave Golden Shears. I loved Golden Shears because of the history and because of Sam - but I'm glad that Sam has moved to a newly vibrant section of Menlo Park. The waiting area in the old Golden Shears was whimsical and perhaps even charming (?) but filthy; if I was the mom of a young child, I would find the waiting area at Menlo Park Barber Shop much more appealing. Thank you for the chance to experience Golden Shears for 17 years, and good luck to Sam and crew for investing their energy, hard-earned money, and love for the MP community into this new business. Kudos for taking on the challenge!

Like this comment
Posted by Downtowner
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 14, 2016 at 4:50 pm

I remember the pompadoured man in a muscle shirt outside the front door next to his very shiny motorcycle parked on the sidewalk. Which of the barbers was he?

3 people like this
Posted by Rebecca
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 15, 2016 at 9:16 am

After we moved back to Menlo Park, Louis Arenas cut my husband's hair for nearly 20 years. Louis always took his time, making sure each hair was trimmed just so, including the phases when hubby had a mustache and/or beard.

Sitting in the waiting area, I had a chance to see children playing quietly with the ages-old toys and games accumulated over the years. Often I would see siblings draped over their parents or one another, happily occupied while another member of the family got a fresh hair cut. Often I cursed the springs in the antique chairs, but recognized what a blessing it was to witness families creating what will one day be some sweet memories.

Louis built that from nothing. And if, as one reader commented, the waiting area was a little worse for wear, I doubt there is any other institution of that age that isn't. The over-arching impression should be of the quality of the treatment of all who entered, and the environment of warmth, generosity, and community only possible with time.

Sam is an excellent barber, and will no doubt be a tremendous success. We wish him all the best, and have done so on his Facebook page and here on the Almanac. But it's important to note, he stands on the shoulders of a Menlo Park giant: Louis Arenas.

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