Raleigh staple 'Ray's Hair Shop' forced to relocate

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Owners of 'Ray's Hair Shop' says they're being forced to move out of their downtown location. (WTVD)

When the bell slapping against the glass door stops ringing, the buzz of an electric clipper greets you inside Ray's Hair Shop on the corner of Fayetteville and Davie Streets in the heart of downtown Raleigh.

The rotating, glowing, red, white, and blue barber pole in the window of the small, one-story building gives it away; this is a traditional barber shop, the kind of place customers come and ask for "the usual."

Either owner Simon Garner or his business partner Stuart Clements will answer the phone and book appointments, but a call they got last week was unlike the rest.

"People have moved in and out next door and a lot of the restaurants they last three or four years, and they come and go," said Garner. "But we've been here 18 years, then got the call."

It was a call from the building's owner, Duke Energy, letting them know their month-to-month lease would be ending soon and Ray's Hair Shop would be forced to find another place to call home.

"It was tough," Garner said. "I really love what I'm doing, don't want to stop. Love the people."

Wilmington-based Tama Tea is moving into the space next door to the barbershop.

Co-owner Rocco Quaranto III tells ABC11 the tea shop is expected to open in the next four to six weeks, with an expanded coffee line serving Counter Culture Coffee.

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Quaranto said he didn't plan on expanding into the location that is currently home to Ray's Hair Shop and doesn't know who his new neighbors will be.

Duke Energy isn't revealing the new tenant. Spokesperson Meredith Archie sent this statement to ABC11:

"Ray's Hair Shop has been a part of the downtown Raleigh community for years, with patrons- including many of our employees- that count on their close proximity. Our real estate team is working with Ray's to help find another location nearby on Fayetteville Street."

Garner has kept the barber shop open since retiring from the NC State Highway Patrol when he called his old friend Ray Stephenson.

"He said why don't you come up here and work with me? He said you won't make no money but we'll have a good time," Garner said with a smile.

Ray's Hair Shop has been a staple on the heavily-traveled block in downtown Raleigh for nearly a 100 years.

Garner said it started out in 1924 in the basement of the Sir Walter Apartments before bouncing around, changing its name and landing on the familiar corner in 1999.

The customers are loyal.

"Usually after lunch, just walk around the corner, get it done," said Marshall Smith who's been getting his hair cut at Ray's for the last two years. "They can take me anytime."

Jonathan Garrison works with Smith at Red Hat and has also taken advantage of the convenient service.

"I like getting my hair cut here. I think they're great guys," he said. "I'm very disappointed to hear that, for myself and for them. I think that's very sad."

Many customers have said they'll follow Garner wherever he goes, but even he's unsure of where exactly that will be.

"They have been so great to us, why would we want to leave them?" he said.

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