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Kelso barber shop owned by same family since the '30s closes

Bill Ammons took over the shop from his dad in 1977 and never raised the price of a haircut from $4.

KELSO, Wash. — In the 1930s, Bill Ammons father opened up Pacific Barber shop on Pacific Avenue in Kelso.

For the last 85 years, the shop has been in the Ammons' family and in 1962 Bill started cutting hair alongside his dad.

"I couldn't make a living. It was hard to compete with him because was the old fashioned barber, the guy that shaved everybody's faces and he could do all this stuff. I was young and wasn't experienced."

To make ends meet, Bill painted houses and installed new roofs, but he always stayed loyal to the barber shop.

When his dad died in 1977, Bill took over the family business, but one thing stayed the same.

"Since 1977, the price of a haircut in Pacific Barbershop has stayed 4 dollars and I give a lot of them away."

Bill Ammons is known in this community, you could say he's well known and for more than just a haircut.

"We've collected food, we've had coat drives, brown bag days, day of kindness and just one thing after another." 

He also has taken local kids, hundreds of them, up to Seattle to see the Mariners play, but he's never been to a game himself. Always choosing to give away the free tickets the team gives him, rather than keep a pair for himself.

His chairs are a place where locals come to here the latest gossip or get advice from their local barber. 

"They said you got more power in Cowlitz County than any one person. They call me the mayor of Kelso," Ammons joked.

So when a local superintendent had an issue with a coach, she turned to Bill for advice.

"I remember one night one of the superintendents of schools calls me up and says 'Oh man the coach down here, I'm gonna fire him.' I say, 'Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait a minute, wait a minute'. So I explained what I would do. So on Monday morning, she did it. It's comical because I had trouble in school because I didn't like school," Ammons said.

"My dad once had a saying, son I'll tell you what. You're not going to make a lot of money cutting hair but you're gonna get an education you will not believe and boy it is the truth because I've dealt with, you can not believe the people that I've counseled in this little barber shop that are smarter than I am and everything."

When a newly formed NBA team named the Portland Trail Blazers formed as a franchise, Ammons called Harry Glickman and said he wanted to put on a game in Longview. He says Glickman told him that he couldn't keep any money and that it had to go to charity. Ammons picked a local charity and the first ever pre-season game for the Trail Blazers was played at R.A. Long High School in Longview in 1970.

READ: As 50th season begins, Blazers continue legacy of giving back

"It's been such a pleasure to be able to do some of the things that I've been able to do, nobody could've ever done it."

If you'd like to meet Bill and see his shop, there will be a celebration at Pacific Barber Shop, Wednesday, October 30 at 2pm.

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