Forced to close a 43-year-old barber shop on Front Street because of leasing rates, Maurice Singer didn’t count himself lucky.
Today, he might tell you the opposite.
The red caboose on Gilman Boulevard opened up, breaking way for the fulfillment of Singer’s long-held dream of opening the Cut Loose Caboose.
“I’m much happier here,” he said, gazing out little windows that framed grazing sheep at a small farm. “Who wouldn’t be?”
The bright, clean caboose, bolted to the last bit of railroad track than runs through the area, is the perfect spot for a single-man buzz shop.
Sunlight bounces off the white wood paneling. Historical pictures of men at the barber shop give a sense of nostalgia. The space is a piece of art in itself.
Built in 1941 as a part of the Great Northern Railroad, much of the original structure remains. While an original sign bearing the rail line’s symbol is still welded to a railing, it’s since been painted over black, leaving only a faint outline.
The narrow metal stairs lead to the front door, which greets visitors with a train whistle.
The caboose brings out the child in everyone, Singer said.
Since opening in March, most of his clients are men, but its meant to be a family place.
One time a father brought his son in, saying the boy attempted to cut his own hair and needed a fix.
When the father left to get some cash, the truth came out about the boy’s haircut.
The boy said, “I didn’t cut my own hair, my dad attempted to.”
Singer kept his lips sealed, to ensure the boy got to keep his candy reward for sitting still.
When the father returned to see Singer’s work, he was pleased enough to ask for his own haircut.
It’s not unusual for fathers to see how their sons haircuts turnout, before giving the new barber a try, Singer said with a laugh.
Singer has been cutting hair for about 30 years.
A former arts student at Bellevue Community College, he decided the best way to make money and do art was to cut hair.
It’s a form of sculpture, he said.
About 15 years ago he took a job at Frank’s Barber Shop next to the Front Street Market, a week later the owner offered to sell it to him.
Customers have been calling him Frank since.
The leasing rates went up this year, and he couldn’t afford the luxury suite. Overcrowded parking wasn’t good for business either.
A customer told him about the caboose, and the timing worked out.
It had been a photo studio and a supplement and gift shop in years past
So far, business has been good.
He hasn’t had to sheer the sheep next door yet, he said with a smile. “I’ve added new life to (the caboose), and it’s definitely given me new life.”
The Cut Loose Caboose
Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Tues.-Fri.; 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Sat.; closed from 1-2 p.m. daily.
Address: 240 Northwest Gilman Boulevard, Issaquah
Payment: Cash or check only
Maurice Singer opened the Cut Loose Caboose with about 30 years experience cutting hair. BY CELESTE GRACEY, Issaquah Reporter
Inside the Cut Loose Caboose, Maurice Singer cuts hair one man at a time. He takes walk-ins only. BY CELESTE GRACEY, Issaquah Reporter
Maurice Singer and his pooch Daisy on the back of the Cut Loose Caboose. BY CELESTE GRACEY, Issaquah Reporter