Stepping in to Lou’s Barber Shop, 521 E. Grand River Ave., was a little like stepping back in time. It hadn’t changed much in its 74-year history.
On Saturday, Lou’s owner Lou Tallarico, closed the business his father started at the height of the Great Depression — a business that remained in the same location since 1937. “Barbershops like this are fading fast,” Tallarico said. “You’d be surprised how many people come in and say, ‘Oh, a barbershop.’” Tallarico was 5 years old when his family moved from Ontonagon County in the Upper Peninsula to Lansing in 1935. Fiori Tallarico, Lou’s father, was an Italian immigrant who moved to the U.S. in 1902. He bought the building across the street from the Old Town Diner and the Temple Building in the spring of 1936. The next year, he started a barbershop.
Lou Tallarico began cutting hair full time in 1949. At that time, the barbershop was in a prime location.
“It was a busy place down here,” Tallarico said of north Lansing in the 1950s. “At one time we had three chairs. My dad, brotherin-law and me. We were busy all day.”
Tallarico’s decision to close the shop, which he had been kicking around for a few years, was reinforced after a shoulder injury in December. Tallarico’s doctor said it would permanently affect his ability to cut hair. “I’m 80 years old. It’s time to retire,” he added.
Tallarico says that he’ll miss the conversation most. “Everyone that comes in has a story of some kind.”
But It appears the building won’t be vacant for long. Tallarico’s son Mike said “an acceptable offer came by” for the building, but didn’t go into details about the new owner.
Old Town will miss Lou, and wishes him luck in this new stage! Keep an eye out for the new tenant moving into 521 E. Grand River in the near future.