Phil Ratzlaff and his wife, Trudi, are making the best of their newfound freedom.
The Chilliwack couple retired this summer from the Main Street Barber Shop, which they owned and operated for 38 years.
They’re pretty happy about retirement — a little giddy even.
|(Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)|
For Phil Ratzlaff, 80, the sale of their little storefront shop last summer signalled his retirement from more than a half century of barbering. That’s 52 years of keeping the scissors sharp and the customers happy.
“I want to thank my patrons for their loyal support and friendship,” he said, adding it was a pleasure to serve them for so many years.
Phil attended Vancouver Vocational School for barber training in his 20s after injuring his back in a car accident.
“My good friend had gone to barber school before me,” Ratzlaff said, which gave him the idea.
Trudi explains that Phil, who is very creative and artistic, also loves to talk, which goes hand-in-hand with the best kind of barbershop experience.
“He’s just a real people person,” she confided.
As a young man Phil was searching for a vocation that he could practise as he aged into his 50s and 60s. He was still cutting hair well into his 70s.
Ratzlaff apprenticed at Ruby’s Barber Shop in Coquitlam, (“that’s where it all began…”) before cutting hair in Greendale for a few years, and then for a decade on Young Road next to the Empress Hotel, as Phil’s Barbershop.
And for 38 years of those 52 in total, his scissors were flying on Main Street in downtown Chilliwack.
The Ratzlaffs ran the shop at first under the name Esquire, and then together as “Esquire His and Hers Hairstyling”, before they switched to Main Street Barber Shop.
|Phil Ratzlaff touches strips of old, peeling tape that make up the barber pole outside his former barbershop. He retired after 38 years of cutting hair at Main Street Barber in Chilliwack. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)<|
Trudi said she started hairdressing from their home on Sumas Prairie Road before joining Phil in the shop years later.
She received her training from the Valle School of Beauty and apprenticed at Erna’s Beauty Salon on Mill Street.
“The reason I went into hairdressing was because our teenager needed braces,” she remembered.
Trudi said she misses opening the shop every morning to get it ready for the day with Phil.
To their regulars, she wants them to know they enjoyed the company and friendship all these years of helping them look their best.
But they are also revelling in the freedom.
“We are totally enjoying our family,” Trudi said.
“Now we simply do fun stuff.”
As the youngest of 14 children, family was always very important to Phil, and it still is.
He enjoys painting landscape and nature scenes to give away to the kids, and put up on their walls. He finds he now has the luxury of time for puttering, and keeping his grass trimmed with a new toy: an electric lawn mower.
Phil does admit to missing their regular customers as well as hearing their stories and jokes. But overall retirement agrees with him.
“I can take an hour break from working outdoors and sit down and have a coffee,” Phil said. “I have free time to do some golfing.”
He’s brainstorming ideas.
“Maybe I’ll start coaching the Canucks,” he said with a laugh.
The active seniors are now busy planning Ratzlaff family holidays, travelling, and enjoying their eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
“Maybe I’ll get to see some of the regulars at a coffee shop, or a Chiefs’ game, or on a golf course,” Phil added.
“The big thing is I can now do what I want with my whole day.”