After 19 years at the corner of Central Avenue and Golf Links Road, Shane's Central City Barber Shop is moving to its third location in 56 years.
Central City Barber Shop originally opened in 1963 at Central City Shopping Center, just to the south. Shane Forga started working there over 30 years ago.
Forga is the fourth barber in his family. His grandparents, Lucille Godbehere and Sheridan Forga, were barbers, as was his father, Van, for 45 years. Lucille ran her own business, while her husband had a wagon -- or "store on wheels" as Forga described it -- that he would take to various houses. While at these places, he would also cut hair.
Forga said he knew from a young age that he would follow in his father's footsteps. He went to the Arkansas College of Barbering and Hair Design in North Little Rock, then he became an apprentice. After that, he went to work with his father at Van's Barber Shop in Mount Ida. After a couple of years, Forga said he realized Mount Ida was too small for two barbers, so he came to Hot Springs looking for work.
Central City Barber Shop was started in 1963 by Junior Ennis, who was later joined by Bob Wakefield and Ottie Phillips. By the time Forga started working there, Ennis had retired, and the other two men were nearing retirement, as well. Forga said they told him if he stayed around for a few years, he could be the next owner.
The shop was the first business to open in the shopping center, and by 2000 they were the last one still there. Forga said he didn't want to relocate the shop, but the center had become run down. So, in 2000, he moved to the second location next to Oaklawn Park.
The move initially scared Forga, who said he had no confidence his customers would follow him, but the change ended up being great for business. The first few months were very slow, he said, then business exploded.
Forga said the location, with its prominent spot on the corner, had better visibility and "made me who I am today."
When he found out Oaklawn had bought the location for its multimillion dollar expansion project, Forga said he wasn't mad about it. He said Oaklawn has been great for his business and he has no complaints with them. On having to relocate, Forga said he is actually excited. He said that working in the same room for 19 years in a row can burn someone out.
Forga searched for a new location for three months. His first idea was to move back to the original location, as the center has been revitalized. When that didn't pan out, he kept looking. He said he must have driven the streets a hundred times, always looking to see if something had come available. Forga was looking for a place with visibility, parking, easy access and with the right square footage.
He eventually found a spot he liked at Boardwalk Village, further south of the current location, at 3814 Central Ave., Suite D.
"I'm excited," Forga said, adding that it will be good for his soul.
The new location will have a new theme. Forga said the current location had a 1930s-1950s theme to it, but the new one will have an old warehouse theme. Forga said that the idea for how the new place will look was designed by his wife, Sandie.
In addition to a new location and a new theme, the shop will also have new appliances and equipment. The only thing that he said he is taking with him to the new location is the barbershop chairs, which are originals from when the first location opened in 1963. He will also bring his taxidermied animals with him to the new location.
While Forga looks forward to the move, he said he will miss the current location. He said he expects he will turn the wrong direction and accidentally drive to the location several times without realizing it.
The last day at the current location is expected to be March 29 with the new location opening on April 2. Forga said he is thankful for all the loyal customers he has, and he hopes they will follow him to Boardwalk Village.
Local on 03/25/2019
Print Headline: Central City Barber Shop relocates after 19 years