For the past 40 years Dino Arvanitis cut hair at Economy Barber Shop. Last autumn he sold the business and the name has changed, but have no fear, he is not ready to retire his scissors quite yet; he will continue to rent a chair and cut men’s hair part-time.
It is Dino’s loyalty to his customers that keeps him from stepping into full retirement. He explains, “I don’t want to leave my customers. After so many years they have become my friends.”
Anyone who has encountered Dino will understand why clients return to see him. It’s the hugs he gives friends. It’s his warm smile and friendly wave he offers people as they pass by the window that connects him to friends and strangers. It’s the honking of car horns when drivers spot Dino standing outside the shop that makes him a local icon.
In our rushed world, Dino takes the time to stop and acknowledge people. Dino says, “It makes me feel good.”
Dino is originally from Hora, Greece. He got his start cutting hair in the early 1960s. He served two years of compulsory service with the Greek Army where he cut hair when he was stationed in Cyprus.
He and his brother moved to Vancouver in 1967. Dino learnt English in one year, and industriously worked two jobs as a restaurant dishwasher and a hotel bus boy. Soon after, he attended Vancouver Vocational Institute and earned his barber’s license. He was immediately hired at a barber shop in downtown Vancouver. He bought his first shop at Broadway and Commercial in the mid-1970s; in 1977 he sold it and headed back downtown to work.
He set his sights on working at Economy Barber Shop and made three attempts to land a job at the established business.
In 1979, three times lucky, he was hired by owners Con and Mary Pritti. They became close family friends and sold him the business in 1981.
His customers come from all walks of life and include judges, doctors, politicians, and even Santa Claus has been known to pop in to see him during Kerrisdale Business Association’s Christmas event.
Dino has cut hair for some families spanning four generations. Some of his loyal clients live as far afield as Florida, New York and England; they make a point of stopping in for a snip when they are in town.
The devoted business owner enjoyed arriving at the shop early in the morning when Kerrisdale village was barely wiping the sleepy dust from its eyes. He says, “I feel it is my home. I am involved in the community. I love the people.”
Dino met his wife on the Broadway bus; this year they will celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary. They like to get back to Greece every couple of years and now that he is semi-retired he intends to travel more frequently.
“I appreciate the support my customers give me, and how happy they have made me all these years,” he says.
Although Dino’s work schedule will be slowing down, he looks forward to seeing his loyal customers for plenty more haircuts and chats. And he promises he will always have time to stop mid-cut for a smile and a wave.
Economy Barber Shop
New Name: Kerrisdale Hair Bar
5665 West Boulevard, Vancouver BC V6M 3W7