Bruce’s Barbershop, a fixture in downtown Damariscotta for 36 years, has signed a two-year lease to move into a space at 752 Main St., near the intersection of Main Street and Route 1.
The business signed a lease with Wayne Farrin, of Farrin Properties, to move into the space currently home to the real estate agency’s office. Farrin Properties will move across the street, into Farrin’s Pine Grove Plaza building at 767 Main St., according to Farrin.
The news comes after the announcement March 5 by Damariscotta Town Manager Matt Lutkus that the town had reached an agreement to purchase the barbershop building in the municipal parking lot as the location for planned public restrooms.
Residents will vote on the town’s purchase of the barbershop site during a special town meeting at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 21 at the town office.
“We are probably moving whether the sale passes or not,” Mike Flagg, barbershop owner Bruce Soule’s nephew and business partner, said.
They plan to move the business around May 15, after some work is done to the new location, according to Flagg.
A wall will be taken out and a second entrance added so two businesses can rent the building, Farrin said.
“Other towns have shown interest in having a barbershop, but I’d rather stay here,” Soule said while cutting hair in his shop the afternoon of March 15, with black-and-white photos of the now-gone Lincoln County Fairgrounds, of Damariscotta, hanging on the wall behind him.
Lutkus said he was pleased to hear the news.
“I’m delighted … certainly one of the downsides of having the barbershop site changed was the fact that it could displace the barbershop. This is a win-win situation,” Lutkus said. “For this community and the thousands of visitors we get each year, (the restroom) is a major milestone.”
If voters approve the sale, the building, which is currently owned by Dan and Eileen Miller, would be leveled, the adjacent parking lot would be paved, and the drainage in the area improved, according to Lutkus.
“We had been approached by the town a few times … We figured it was time because of the condition of the building,” Dan Miller said of the decision to sell.
In the years before it was a barbershop, the building had been a shipping clerk’s office, a restaurant, and a fish market.
Bruce Soule has been a barber since 1968, when he started working at Don’s Barbershop in Newcastle before joining the U.S. Army as a helicopter mechanic from 1968-1970.
He opened his own business in its current location 36 years ago.
“I like meeting and talking to people … people from all walks of life,” Soule said of his profession.
Because the town had been discussing public restrooms for so long, Soule said he wasn’t that surprised when the town announced its plan to build them in the same lot as his business.
“They needed (the restrooms) … but who wants to move when you’re in the perfect location?” Soule said.
“One person’s blight is another person’s treasure,” Soule said, referencing a statement made by Lutkus in an email to the Damariscotta Board of Selectmen, which labeled the barbershop site a “blighted area.”
“It’s a building with character,” Soule added.
Customers, however, were surprised to hear about the relocation of the barbershop.
“I just heard about it today,” Darrold Williams, who was getting his haircut March 15, said. Williams has been getting his haircut from Soule for the past 18 years.
Soule said that while he loves his current location, he is not very concerned about the move to a new building.
“As long as it has four walls and a floor, I can work with it,” he said.
“We’ll find you somewhere!” Ken Dodge, who has been going to the barbershop for the past five or six years, said as he walked out the door after his haircut.
“We’ll be around!” Soule replied.