Manuel Espinoza

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Manuel Espinoza

Interview by:Brooke Ortel


When Mr. Manuel Espinoza first came to Oberlin in 1964 for a job interview at the local barbershop, he knew right away that he wanted to stay. A self-identified people person, he enjoys interacting with his clients and making them look good, one haircut at a time.

Q: What word or image would you use to describe Oberlin?

A: Lively, animated, entertaining. When I go through other towns I hardly see any people on the streets. But you come to Oberlin, there are students walking around, any day of the week. Most outside towns, Saturdays are busy days. Oberlin, every day youve got movement in town. From here, you can see all the people going to the Feve, walking by and going to the banks. [You see] the different peoplethe different countries walking around. Its pretty cool.

Q: Can you briefly describe the nature of your business and its function in the Oberlin community?

A: My business is making people look good.

Oberlin: lively, animated, entertaining.

Q: What sorts of economic development would you like to see in Oberlin?

A: I think specialty shops would probably be the best because anything else, you have Walmart and all that competing with you. I think unique stores would probably last longer [downtown] than anything that would have to compete with the big box stores as they call them. I never worried [about those stores]. In my business, if I lose a customer, its not because of somebody elseits because of me.

Q: The word sustainability can be used to describe actions that promote the economic, social, and environmental well-being of a community. What does sustainability mean to you as an Oberlin resident and a business owner?

A: I dont know how much a barbershop would apply to that, other than good grooming. Well, the town itself, you dont have to go out of town to get whatever you need. Most of your needs are here. With that, Id say Oberlin does pretty well. Self-sufficient, self-sustaining.

Oberlin, every day youve got movement in town.

Q: I think longevity is part of it too, what you were saying about how youve been here since the 60s. I would say your business has definitely been sustainable

A: I think Ive changed when there needed to be change. Youve got to go with the flow, not to extremes, just enough to rock the boat. Im probably the first barbershop to have appointments. I was the first guy who had a woman with me working as a barber. She got first chairI deferred to my wifes talents!

Q: What sustainable practices have you incorporated into your business practices?

A: I think one of them is the appointments because a lot of my clients, customers, they have time constraints. I have professors and college students and they have x amount of minutes theyll call up and set up an appointment. Theyll be in and out and guaranteed they wont have to wait. I think thats the biggest thing Ive done. That, and consistency in the quality of the haircuts. I do all right, cutting hair. After 50 years, that says it all. The people come here come here of their own volition, so its a great working environment. No one comes in here because they have to. You come here because you want to50 years and I love my job. And if you love your job, you never spend a day at work.

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