|Lane Ruiz takes a break between haircuts.|
Another Annandale old-timer, barber Lane Ruiz, has been at the Little River Barber Shop on Little River Turnpike since 1980.
Ruiz remembers other Annandale businesses, now closed, that were popular back in the day, including the Black Orchid restaurant and the G.C. Murphy variety store in the same strip mall on Little River Turnpike. After Murphy’s closed, that spot was occupied by McCrory’s, then a Korean department store. [Advance Auto Parts will open in the empty space that used to house Blockbuster.]
Also once popular and now long gone are the Spaghetti Mill on Little River Turnpike across from Giant, and the Two Chefs, which was later replaced by Fuddruckers, Ruiz recalls. A large Walgreens drug store is under construction on that site.
Also since Ruiz started working here, he says, “Annandale has gotten about 20 times more diverse.” When he moved here from Panama in 1960 when he was 8 years old, newcomers tried harder to adjust, he says. The new generation of immigrants are “good hardworking people, but it seems harder for them to fit in,” he says.
Ruiz grew up in Arlington and graduated from Washington Lee High School in 1971. He still lives in Arlington. He never married or had children but has had several long-time girlfriends.
The Little River Barber Shop opened in 1969, and Ruiz is the last barber from the old days. He still has some customers who’ve been coming to him for haircuts for the past 10 or 20 years; other longtime customers have passed away or moved. “It used to be a place where people liked to hang out and talk about sports or politics. We don’t get that any more. I miss that,” he says.
Hairstyles have also gotten a lot shorter since he started, Ruiz says. They’re also more expensive, but still a great deal: When he started, a man’s haircut at the Little River Barber Shop was $8.50. Now it’s $12. A woman’s haircut is $15.
Ruiz is thinking about retiring next year and moving back to Panama and getting a job as a translator or in the tourist industry—“not cutting hair,” he says. After doing well over 100,000 haircuts—at the rate of 12 a day, sometimes as many as 18, five days a week for 34 years—he’s ready to try something new.