East End Clips and Quips
story by Mika Chance
The oldest barber in Henderson doesn't take appointments. To get a haircut from 85-year-old Don Burris, you drop by Mac's Barber Shop, a small white building that is a fixture in the historic East End neighborhood.
Don was born and raised just a block from the shop, and cut countless heads of hair there from 1979 until 1998, when Ryan “Mac” McElhaney dropped by and asked him if he’d ever thought about retiring. The retirement didn’t last long—within a year, Don was back at Mac’s.
Mac remembers the advice Don gave him when he took over the shop: "My suggestion to you is, don't change anything."
Too much change might upset the regulars. For his first two years as owner, Mac left the shop unchanged. When he did make changes, they were small.
Mac’s Barber Shop embodies the spirit of East End: Don was at the hospital for the birth of Mac’s mother; both barbers will make house calls for customers who can’t make it to the shop. Men who have gotten their haircuts here for decades now come with young sons in tow.
“You learn a lot of things. You hear a lot of lies, too," Don says with a laugh. It’s hard work, and you don’t get pensions or paid vacations as a barber.
“You don't see any barbers retiring at 55 or 60 years old,” Mac says. But they both say they enjoy the people—their neighbors.
“It helps, knowing you’ve got so many friends,” Don says.