Omaha barber closes shop after 53-year career

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Posted: Thursday, August 1, 2013 12:00 am

An Omaha mainstay, Gentile & Son Barber Shop, has closed its doors.

Owner Jim Gentile put the building at 3544 Center St. up for sale. He closed it around Christmas to care for his wife when she was recuperating from a fall.

Gentile, 73, comes from a long line of barbers and worked in the shop 53 years. His father opened the shop on Center Street in 1933, he said, and his great-grandfather barbered in Italy. He inherited the building when his father died in the 1990s. It became a neighborhood meeting place of sorts, known for its cheap haircuts and long lines, which required Gentile to eventually put in place a number system for those waiting. It allowed customers to go to the bank or run other errands while still remaining in line.

“Some people got mad at that, but what are you going to do?” he said. “People would wait for anything, but they don't want to wait for a haircut.”

He said he has seen some interest in the building, which was built for the barber shop and, originally, a shoe shop next door. Over the years, the neighboring space was once a burger joint, a tropical fish store and a TV shop.

Gentile said he misses the shop, but plans to retire.

“Other barbers told me they're getting my guys, so what are you going to do? I feel terrible, but that's business.”

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