Local barber cuts hair, grows relationships

‘I’ve been cutting many of my customers’ hair for decades.’

It was 1969. Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, music lovers gathered at Woodstock, television viewers were hooked on “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” and “Gunsmoke” and Dale Marchal began business and a legacy at Shiloh Barbers on North Main Street in Harrison Twp.

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Marchal has actually been barbering since 1968 after graduating from high school in Russia, Ohio, and serving some time with the Air Force reserves. The son of a farmer, Marchal knew he didn’t want to follow in his father’s footsteps. “My dad suggested barber college. My uncle and a few cousins were barbers, so I thought I’d give it a try,” he said.

Marchal’s brother has been barbering for half a century in his shop in West Carrollton. “My first job was over on North Dixie Drive with a great guy named John Guthrie,” Marchal recalls. “He gave me my first big break. He could have fired me, but he didn’t. That’s when I learned that barbers’ mistakes grow out.”

Marchal looks at barbering as a lot more than cutting hair. “When my customers come here it’s a lot more than just a haircut. It’s a relationship. I’ve been cutting many of my customers’ hair for decades. Many of them didn’t have gray hair when they first came here,” he said with a chuckle. “And many had a lot more hair than they do now.”

Situated on North Main Street next door to St. Rita’s Church, Shiloh Barber is a step back in time. A visitor instantly knows what Marchal loves: the Bengals, the Dayton Dragons, his faith and his career.

Marchal remembers tough times in the late 60s and 70s. “Men were wearing their hair longer, and it was killing us. A lot of barbers had to close,” he said.

When a customer takes the chair at Shiloh Barber, they immediately engage in conversation or catching up with Marchal. The conversations can range from politics to sports to food to local Dayton history. Because he has a son now living in London, England, Marchal and his wife, Rose, have travelled abroad. Customers are invited to peruse his photo album chronicling their travels.

In addition to barbering, Marchal is supportive of the Polar Bear Club of Chicago, where his other son is the founder. “He started that many years ago, and we’ve been backers for about 17 years now. I used to take the dip in frozen Lake Michigan, but my doctor doesn’t recommend it these days. Boy, oh boy, is it cold!”

Marchal’s clientele includes one female. “She’s the wife of a customer, and he asked me if I’d cut her hair because she wears it very short. They come in together.” He also helped out three female chemo patients who wanted their heads shaved to accommodate their wigs. “They came in after-hours, and I helped them out.”

Marchal’s customers are by-appointment only, however he may take a random walk-in now and then. “I work about 10 hours a day, six days a week. My wife would love to see me slow down a bit, but it’s going to take something major to get me out of here.” And over his nearly 50 years of barbering, Marchal has only raised his price for a haircut once, and that was 15 years ago. These days a haircut at Shiloh is $11.

Marchal has an optimistic and laid-back approach to life that he loves sharing with his customers, and he’s very devoted and loyal to his customers. “I cut Mike Schmidt’s hair back when he was a kid. I have lawyers and doctors in here. I’m not an educated man; how else could I meet so many amazing people. My customers drive here from as far away as Waynesville and Ansonia. Like I said, it’s much more than a haircut, it’s a relationship.” And at Shiloh Barber those relationships are strong and long.

Contact this contributing writer at pgmcginnis45419@yahoo.com.

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