— One in a series on locally owned, small businesses.
Fort Gibson Barber Shop
402 W. Poplar St.
7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Appointments: Derek Gawf, (918) 849-8579.
By Chesley Oxendine
Tahlequah native and veteran barber Derek Gawf brings his talents to Fort Gibson through his newly opened Fort Gibson Barber Shop.
Last week saw the grand opening of his establishment, joined by a ribbon cutting and “the support of the Church of Christ and the community,” Gawf said.
“This is a great place to hang my tools up,” he said. “The people here have been supportive of me — I’ve been doing wonderful business.”
That business includes a variety of looks for his clientele at a flat rate of $10 per cut, he said.
“I can do high and tights, flat tops, but I can also use shears and comb for a fuller look,” Gawf said. “It’s what the customer wants.”
Gawf brings his 34 years of haircutting experience from his previous shop in Muskogee, where he says a bad location cut into his revenue.
“Bought a shop in the Broadway Shopping Center from a fellow named Coleman Nelson, because he couldn’t run it anymore,” he said. “The landlord and I didn’t get along, so I moved up to a place between Muskogee’s courthouses.”
While Gawf initially thought this might bring him more customers, trying to find parking during the courthouses’ hours proved difficult.
“It was just not a good move,” he said.
The move to Fort Gibson turned out to be a boon, however, Gawf said.
“Everyone around here is really friendly and helpful,” he said. “I’m blessed to be here.”
The barber plans on keeping his business going through careful communication with his customers and a guarantee of quality, he said.
“A lot of times, when someone says bad haircut, or that’s a bad barber, what has happened is miscommunication,” Gawf said. “They said they wanted one thing and the barber heard another. What I do is ask once, and then repeat it back to them – you ask and you ask again to double verify.”
He also says he’s “never offended” if a customer doesn’t like their cut.
“You don’t like it, you don’t pay,” Gawf said.
The hair cutter said he puts such care into his work because “it’s a profession, not a trade.”
“You have to be professional as a barber,” he said. “You have to be courteous and someone with a good personality to be right for the job.”
Much of Gawf’s family, in fact, pursues the same work, including his father and oldest brother.
Gawf doesn’t just stop at barbering, however, he also intends to continue his work with the Faith Based Therapeutic Community Corporation, which according to its website is a “is a residential rehabilitation facility for low-risk, non-violent offenders.”
“I’m a very religious man, a devout Christian,” he says. “We work at the FBTCC to give people a place to stay and help with the homeless.”
He said he also runs a small ministry of his own dedicated to preaching against drug use: Driving Against Drugs, or DAD.
“I go to churches and testify and tell them my story, and what I’ve been through,” he said. “We’re affiliated with the FBTCC.”
More than anything, Gawf wants to be a positive part of a town he’s coming to love, he said.
“I just want to be a good service to the community,” Gawf said.