Scarborough’s first black-owned barber shop will close its doors for the last time on Saturday December 31.
” It’s going to be a very sad day for me and for so many of my loyal clients,” sighed Worrell Molligan, in announcing the closing of Conrad’s Barber shop at 3601 Lawrence Avenue East.
The Trinidad-born barber who has been the owner of the hair cutting establishment since 1995 ( it opened in 1975) said he was forced to close because his lease was not renewed by the new owner of the plaza in which the shop is located.
Early In the new year, Mollingan will be moving “down the road” to work at another “Conrad’s barber shop ” – this one at 2921 Lawrence Ave. East – operated by Ron Marshall, the son of the late Conrad Marshall who had established the two barbershops named after him.
” Conrad, a pioneering Trinidadian barber, worked at one of the leading barber shops in Port of Spain before migrating to the United States .He moved to Canada from New Jersey in the 1970s ,” said Mulligan who worked with him in Scarborough for several years.
Recalling his many years at Conrad’s barber shop, Molligan noted that it was ” not just a place where people came to get a haircut. It was much more than that.”
“It was an institution – a place where people from different walks of life would engage in hot debates on the issues of the day while they waited their turn in the barber’s chair, ” he said.
” The recent presidential election campaign in the United States sparked some of the most interesting and exciting discussions in the shop,” he chuckled.
Molligan noted that while the shop has ” a largely black clientele ” and is generally known as a ” black barber shop,” it doors ” has remained open to everyone.
” In fact some of our most loyal clients are people of other ethnic backgrounds.”
However, as he sadly noted, the closing of Conrad’s barber shop marks the end of another small but significant chapter in the history of black-owned businesses in the Greater Toronto Area.