Local barbershop gives haircuts, smiles for over five decades

Joe's Barber Shop is one of the longest-running Black-owned barbershops in the Quad Cities
Published: Aug. 31, 2022 at 6:19 PM CDT
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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - Over the last five decades, Joseph McLemore has cut a long list of hairstyles inside his barbershop, Joe’s Barber Shop.

“It’s kind of scary when you get into business because you don’t have any backup,” McLemore said. “If you don’t show up, you don’t make a living. I was just trying to raise a family, and take care of my responsibility. One thing leads to another, and it’s brought me to 55 years.”

Mclemore said one of the keys to being open for over 50 years is work ethic.

“You can’t say I’m going to work from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 or 5:00 p.m. There are no set hours in this business. The guy that shows up first will be the winner.”

Inside Joe’s Barber Shop, figuring out which hairstyle to choose is not the only topic discussed.

“It’s probably the only place in the African American community where you can discuss anything from politics to religion and education,” McLemore said. “Most of the people that come to a barbershop, that’s what they come for. They usually give you more questions than you have answers.”

Longtime customer Fontaine Walker said stepping inside Joe’s Barber Shop brings him back to his roots.

“{Joe’s} human side, he takes an interest in you, follows you, and always encourages you when you are off to college, and when you come home,” Walker said. “It’s just like ‘Cheers.’ You come in and you feel at home here in the Quad Cities.”

McLemore said he continues to try and set a good example and structure for his two kids and two grandchildren.

“If you exhibit pride and proudness, that means you put your best foot forward, you’re doing the best you can, and I’ve always tried to do that,” McLemore said

Walker adds that McLemore is a great representative of the best the Quad Cities has to offer.

McLemore estimated he’s served thousands of customers since he first opened.