Few things truly reflect the thoughts and ideals of a community than the institutions that support its style. If you really want a slice of culture and the pulse of an area, go to the local barbershop. G&O Barbershop is no exception.
Located in the heart of downtown Huntsville, G&O is the place to find good friends, great conversation, and an even better haircut. Merle Tennant is the latest in a long line of barbers that have remained a constant, keeping up with the styles and sentiments of a changing world.
The history of G&O goes back to its days on the square in Huntsville in the late 1950s. Since then, the customer base has remained steady, adding new customers almost every week.
Stan Gregory and Raymond Outlaw started G&O back in the late ‘50s. The business was later sold to Jerry Turner, who sold it years later to Don Currie. After 19 years of truck driving, Tennant made the choice to forgo that career in favor of hair cuts, shaves, and trims.
“I guess you can say this was just simply in my blood,” Tennant said. “My grandmother did it for over 55 years as a barber and beautician. My grandpa on my mother’s side used to cut all the kids’ hair and the neighbors’ kids, too.”
G&O has enjoyed a loyalty fiercer than political parties of sports rivals. “They’ve always had good barbers,” said Ricky Spriggs, long-time customer. “When I was maybe around about ten years old or so, they tore down the old G&O shop, and that was the last time I let some other barber in town cut my hair. That had to be over 40 years ago. I’ve been a customer for more than 52 years now.”
“Stanley Gregory was a good barber back in those days, and Merle (Tennant) is just as good,” Spriggs said. After Don Currie took over ownership and operations for a number of years, he hired Tennant. “After about a year of working for him, Don let it be known that he wanted to retire,” Tennant said. “I was glad that he was able to sell it to me, because it has been perhaps one of the best investments of my life.”
Since 2007, the quality of service has remained beyond reproach. The charming appeal has taken on a hyper local feel that has always proven to be a “Magic Mojo” for success.
On the walls of G&O are little testimonies of customers that have developed into life-long friends of each other. The common denominator—G&O. “I feel like the pictures on my wall make things personal, because they are personal,” continued Tennant. “When the customers and I get together, we can talk…and what’s said in a barbershop stays in the barbershop.”
Many of the G&O customer base have been getting haircuts there since they were children, and today their children are carrying on that same tradition with their children.
From young boys in their FFA years to local champion rodeo riders and Walker County Fair buckle winners, all make it their business to get their haircuts for championship photographs at G&O Barbershop. “We have kids that come by, and they are so proud of the things they are doing in school. They sit in our chairs and talk about it and get advice from older customers, and that sort of thing helps to make a community a better place,” Tennant said.
At any given time, customers can be seen reminiscing about the Huntsville Hornets’ state championship, or see pictures of their old teachers, or take pride in the success of others who have gone off to college. “This kind of thing keeps it down-ground hometown,” said Tennant. “It just doesn’t get any better than this.”
When a customer enters G&O, the barbers seem to know exactly the type of haircut they want. The customers, or friends as they are referred to in the shop, are afforded the timeless barbershop courtesy of walk-in visits or call-ins to give them that special touch for a special occasion. “Many times we may have a young man that wants to look just right for that first date with a pretty young lady he may have his eye on or a job interview he has,” continued Tennant.
At G&O, the barbers take pride in knowing just the right style it takes to keep its “friends.” They always know each one’s name and what they want or are looking for.
G&O has also been the place that a young person with drive and ambition can, through a healthy desire of determination, find a respectable career.
Several G&O barbers have gone on to buy homes, raise families, send their children to college, and hold their heads up high earning a living. Current assistant barber Erika Sutton of Huntsville is now a senior at Sam Houston State University who has paid her way through college through this honest profession. Tiffany Danford, also an assistant barber, has opened doors of opportunity for herself as well through the support she has been able to earn at G&O.
G&O has solidified its place as a social center and business that raises confidence and self-esteem. Each barber talks with every customer to focus in on the exact needs and situations occurring in their lives. People that work in high executive positions at places like BP or Dupont stand as a testament to self-assertiveness gained by making great first and lasting impressions.
“Its always a special pleasure to know that we at G&O have had a part in building up young men from the college or the local community by helping them to display great character, strength, and uprightness through something as simple as a fine quality haircut,” Tennant said. “And, what’s even better is when they come back and say that they got that winning style from us.”
1013 Sam Houston Ave
Huntsville, TX 77320