Art Velasquez has been cutting hair in Alamosa since the Nixon Administration, through the ’70s and into the 1980s and ’90s. When the world rolled into the 21st century in the year 2000, Art the barber was still cutting hair and would for two more decades until progress finally caught up in 2023.
A few weeks back he was notified by the landlords that the portion of the building where Art’s Barber-Shop has been located since 1980 will be transformed into something new. Art would have to move on.
“I’m getting used to the idea,” he said this week. “I was pretty stressed at first, but I’m getting used to the idea.”
Art’s Barber-Shop has been a fixture on State Avenue, just off the heart of Main Street in Alamosa, since 1970. It was then that Art Eugene Velasquez moved from cutting hair at the nearby Victoria Hotel on the northeast corner of Sixth and State to the Main Street Barber Shop, also on State Avenue. He turned the Main Street Barber Shop into Art’s Barber-Shop and remained at the original location until 1980. In 1980 he moved Art’s across the street to its current location.
The 1960s were bustling along State Avenue and Main Street. Railroaders mixed with bankers and retail shop owners dominated the downtown landscape. Besides the Victoria Hotel barbershop, there was Achatz Barber Shop where Art’s is currently located.
It hasn’t been easy, but he’s been telling his customers as they come in that they’ll have to find another place to get a haircut. He’s been cutting hair for 57 years and had hoped to make it an even 60, but December will be his final month.
“Most of them are sorry to see me go and some of them say, ‘Well it’s about time,’” he said and laughed.
He became a barber after serving in the Navy from 1961 to 1966, where he worked as a medic. Born in Antonito but raised outside the Valley until the fifth grade, he graduated from Alamosa High in 1961 and in his youth would run the streets of downtown Alamosa selling the local newspaper. In that respect he’s been working on State Avenue his entire life.
He’ll turn 80 in October and he and his wife, Linda, will celebrate their 57th wedding anniversary in December. They recently adopted a puppy that runs their life and will give them both companionship in the retirement years. “I don’t know who’s training who. He may be smarter than we are,” Art the barber said and laughed.
He’s made a lot of friends through his loyal customer base and can only figure that he’ll learn what life is like when he doesn’t have to get up in the morning and open the barber-shop’s doors.
“I have no idea. I’ll have to get used to it.”
“I’ll miss being with the people,” he went on. “I’ve become good friends with a lot of my customers, most of them. So yeah, I’m going to miss the people. But I’ll probably go and have coffee with some of them.”