Simon Khaimov has been cutting hair since he was in the old country, and he has no intention of stopping anytime soon.
The Forest Hills resident moved from Novoi, Uzbekistan, to Whitestone 20 years ago to work at Ralph’s Barber Shop at 14-29 150th St., where his brother had found him a job that would bring him to America.
He didn’t leave that post until two weeks ago, when his landlord refused to renew the lease on the shop, and it was forced to close, leaving him high and dry.
But an Old World shave-and-a-haircut is not easy to find, so in short order he had found a new home: chair No. 10 at Sammy’s Barber Shop at 153-73 Cross Island Pkwy.
Though the old-fashioned marble walls and antique barber chairs of Ralph’s have been replaced with modern accommodations at Sammy’s, which opened in 1995 as Whitestone Hairstylists, Khaimov, 59, still gives the same great haircut, and many of his customers followed him from Ralph’s, which opened in 1932, to his new digs.
Khaimov wears glasses and a long, navy blue haircutter’s smock and slicks back his gray hair when he is on the job. He cuts each patron’s hair with attention to detail, and lathers and shaves each sideburn individually and to a precise shape.
Those skills have earned him quite the following, he says in broken English.
“A lot of people come. Professors, teachers, administrators, important people. Everyone is very happy. What customers need, I do,” he said. “I work with the customer because he knows his hair and what kind of style he wants. I work with the customer because if the customer is happy, so am I.”
And that personal touch has made him a commodity, said Roman Aminev, manager at Sammy’s. Aminev said he was happy to offer Khaimov a job when the lights went out for the last time at Ralph’s, where he had been the sole barber for four years after the others retired.
“He’s an experienced barber, an old-school barber,” Aminev said. “He does his own technique, and we learn from him, of course. He’s been in the area as a barber for 20 years and he brought his customers.”
One such loyal customer is Jamie Canale, who has been seeing Khaimov for his grooming ever since he moved to the area from Flushing a decade ago.
“He knew he was going to move, so he called me and let me know, which was nice,” Aminev said after getting a trim. “I’m glad he’s still in the neighborhood and this place is nicer with better parking.”
Khaimov’s is a family business. His father was a beautician and barber, as are Khaimov’s sisters and brothers, who all learned the trade from him. And now Khaimov, who has a wife named Larisa, three children and five grandchildren, is passing that knowledge on.
His 28-year-old son Oleg lives in Flushing and has taken the skills his father honed over decades to a barbershop in Manhattan.
Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cn
©2011 Community News Group
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