The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Aggie owned and operated

Photo by Kathryn Perez
Barbershop owner and operator Lionel Garcia poses while cleaning up his shop.

Lionel Garcia, ‘76, has lived nearly his entire life in the Bryan-College Station area, and for much of that time he has cultivated a skill he learned when he was 18 years old — cutting hair.

Garcia began his job as a barber after he graduated high school, when his dad told him he wouldn’t be able to afford to send him to college.

“When I graduated [high school], I went straight to Houston,” Garcia said. “I didn’t really get a break. Both of my older brothers were barbers, so my dad said I could move in with them and cut hair.”

At age 27, after almost 10 years of making enough money to go to school by cutting hair, Garcia said he decided it was a good time to go back to school.

“A lot of that had to do with the Beatles,” Garcia said. “A lot of people stopped getting their hair cut, so it was the right opportunity to go to school.”

Garcia said during his time at A&M, he was self-employed as a barber to put food on the table for his wife and two daughters, all while being a student.

“I really had to apply myself because I had been out of high school for so long, but I had determination to finish,” Garcia said. “So, there are a lot of times that I was up late and up early too.”

After graduating from A&M in 1976, before opening up his barber shop, Garcia worked in Human Resources.

“At that time [I worked for] Ilinko industries and then I worked for Babcock in Wilcox,” Garcia said. “My last job was in Houston working for the Employment Training Centers as a business consultant, and then I retired and came back to cut hair.”

Garcia said he also obtained real estate and insurance licenses after graduating.

“I still sell insurance part time. When I am not cutting hair, I am selling insurance,” Garcia said. “A lot of people look forward to retirement, but I don’t.”

Garcia said he settled into his current barber shop at 123 Highland Dr. in Bryan in 2005, five minutes from where he and his family live.

“I have been here 10 years at this shop,” Garcia said. “It’s Aggie owned and Aggie operated. I need to get a sign.”

Garcia said many of his current customers, like former student Daniel Hernandez, were regulars in the past who came back to support the barber shop.

“I got my first haircut with [Lionel] when I was 12 years old,” Hernandez said.

Many students, like petroleum engineering senior Ray Schmaus, go to Lionel’s because of the low cost and classic atmosphere.

“I like going to Lionel’s because he has a very cool old school vibe,” Schmaus said. “He treats you great and we always have awesome conversations with each other, whether it’s about sports, school or girls.”

All of the different chapters have molded Garcia’s story into one that he said he believes is worth sharing.

“I always thought that someday somebody would write about my life,” Garcia said. “I don’t know why — just because I have done a lot of things.”

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