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Longtime community barber retires

Come April 1, many Aldine residents won’t know where to go to relax in a good conversation with friends or to have their hair cut just right. After 46 years as a barber, 28 of those at the corner of Crieffe and Lauder, Dorothy Smallwood is retiring on March 31.

Dotcha Barbershop is a community cornerstone, the type that is quickly fading into the past. “It’s more than a barbershop. It’s like a community place where everyone can get together and talk,” explained longtime customer Cecil King. Like many of Smallwood’s clients, King, his adult children, and his grandchildren all get their haircuts at Dotcha’s.

Smallwood’s customers sit in antique barbershop chairs while getting their haircut, and many stay in the shop afterwards chatting with the other clients or helping Smallwood work a puzzle.

“I have really enjoyed being here. I love my job,” Smallwood said. “I don’t have any customers; they are all family.”

And family is what got Smallwood interested in cutting hair all those years ago. Both of her parents were barbers back before there were barber’s colleges and licences. Her brother is also a barber and Smallwood worked in a shop with him for a few years. She also has two children who are hairdressers.

Smallwood said that what she enjoyed most about her business is visiting with all of her customers. “There’s a different person every day. We all have our stories,” she said.

Smallwood first opened Dotcha’s Barbershop, a name created by blending her nickname, “Dot” and her late husband’s name, Charles , on April 4, 1977.

When Smallwood celebrated her 23rd year at this location, a customer recommended her for the recognition from the governer. A certificate naming Smallwood as a Community Advisor proudly hangs on her wall.

As for her retirement, Smallwood doesn’t have much planned other than relaxation. She plans to sleep in a day or two and travel to visit family.

“I am just where I want to be at this time of my life.”