Setting down her clippers: Nancy Landry retiring after 53 years as barber
Published 12:14 am Thursday, January 30, 2020
NEDERLAND — After 53 years in the business, Nancy Landry is putting away the clippers and combs with her sights set on retirement.
Cropo’s Barber Shop, located at 1116 Boston Ave., has been busier than usual since she announced her upcoming retirement.
The three-chair shop has that old school feel; there’s plenty of seats for guys waiting on a trim, there’s a TV on the wall in case you get bored, there are shelves with barber shop lotions and such as well as the ever popular pocket hairbrush where you slide a finger into the ring and run the bristles of the brush through your hair.
Landry said she still sells a lot of those.
Landry was the first female barber in Nederland and literally grew up in the barbershop, having been hired at the age of 21 by Carl “Cropo” LeBlanc in 1967. She took ownership after LeBlanc’s death in 2001.
She has seen hairstyles come and go and has pretty much done it all.
Holli Vidrine, who bought the shop from her, took out her cell phone and found the calculator app and tallied up some numbers.
“We did a guestimate,” Vidrine said. “An average of 25 cuts a day for 53 years. That’s 275,600.”
Longtime customer Greg Picazo donned one of the camouflage capes and sat in the chair for one last cut by Landry, saying he had waited several weeks to allow his hair to grow out a bit, while chuckling at the fact his hair is relatively short.
“The best time to come in is when it’s a full house. Teenagers to 80-year-olds,” Picazo said, referring to the conversation going on.
Picazo and family moved to Nederland in 1977, when he was 10 and Cropo’s was the first place his dad brought him.
Ray Shirley, who was also there for the last hair cut by Landry, joked around a lot with Landry during his time in the chair. She knew right off what “the usual” was for Shirley, just as she does for a multitude of other customers.
“Men don’t usually talk ’til they’re in the chair,” Shirley said with a laugh. “I don’t usually talk, but I talk about my family. She asked me about them.”
One chair over from Shirley was Byron Inagaki, who was getting a haircut by Vidrine. He said he’s been coming to Cropo’s since 1989 — and had a valid reason.
“When I first got here I was in the Coast Guard and this was the only place that could give a proper military haircut,” Inagaki said.
By this time, Shirley’s haircut was almost complete.
“You’re only like the fifth person to cut my hair and I’m 60,” Shirley told Landry. He went on to joke that he didn’t go to the barbershop when it was popular for men to have long hair. He was afraid it would get snipped to short.
“Cropo told me if a long-haired guy comes in here and wants 1-inch cut off you, do it because they’ll come back,” she said.
Landry is quick to answer questions about her job and herself but one topic she stayed away from. She was asked how she feels about the public’s response to her retirement. She paused ever so briefly.
“I can’t go there,” she said, her voice becoming soft and eyes appeared to have tears.
The future of the shop
Vidrine doesn’t plan to make any changes to Cropo’s when she takes over, she said.
“I’m super excited and it’s also a little intimidating,” Vidrine said. “Miss Nancy has set the bar really high but I think I can do it. I think it’ll be just fine.”
Landry’s decision to retire was for seemingly obvious reasons.
“I’ve pretty much dedicated my whole life to these guys and I want to do something while I still can,” she said. “I’m 74, will be 75 in October and want to do a few things. Hang out at the beach. I have an RV.”
Barber Brandi Rawls said the shop has been busier than usual for the past two weeks, as customers come in for that one last cut by Landry, some coming in from out of town.
Her last day at Cropo’s will be Saturday, and there are plans for a group photo to be taken at 11:30 a.m. at the shop.
A flyer announcing the retirement celebration comes with a quote by Landry — “If you come to Cropo’s Barber Shop one time or a lifetime you are a Cropo’s Barber Shop Boy forever and in my heart forever.”