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Ray Harvey, co-owner of the iconic Harvey’s Barber Shop on Bay Street, said the shop, which has been downtown for decades, will be moving to a new venue at the Grayco Center on Lady’s Island. Not shown is Harvey’s co-owner and the youngest Harvey brother, Johnny. Photo by Bob Sofaly.

 ‘Sometimes you’ve just got to do things’ 

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Harvey’s barbershop to move after nearly nine decades in downtown Beaufort 

By Tony Kukulich

After a staggering 86 years in downtown Beaufort, Harvey’s Barbershop is moving. 

The Bay Street institution is planning to open June 1 in its new Lady’s Island location in the Grayco Shopping Center. Ray Harvey, who owns and runs the business with his brother Johnny, said the growth in tourism, while good for the town, has made it difficult for him to operate his business. 

“The tourism has grown double just about every year for the last five years,” Ray said. “That eats up all the parking spaces. I just had two customers say they had to park two-and-a-half blocks away. It’s just gotten busier and busier with people not getting haircuts. Tourism is not good for haircuts.” 

According to Ray, his father, Furman Harvey, started cutting hair in Beaufort in 1936. Furman grew up in Fairfax, S.C., and learned the barber trade in Florida before settling briefly in Walterboro. 

“He went to work in a shop in Walterboro, and didn’t like it,” Ray explained. “That’s why he moseyed down here one day. He got out of the car and passed a man, Mr. Fordham from Fordham’s Hardware. He asked him, ‘Do you know anyone that needs a barber?’” 

A simple inquiry led to a job in short order, and that was all it took to establish a business that has lasted four score and six years, so far. 

In 1954, Furman moved the business into its third and final location, a building that Furman built himself. Johnny and Ray bought the business and the building in 1993, though Ray had been working for Furman since the early ’60s. Johnny joined his father and brother in business.

“When I started, there were only 5,000 people here,” Ray said. “Dec. 6, 1962, I started cutting hair here.”

A photo of owners Ray and Johnny Harvey that hangs in Harvey’s Barber Shop on Bay Street. Photo courtesy of Eric Smith.

The brothers signed a two-year lease for their new location with an option to extend it another two years. Ray, who will celebrate his diamond anniversary as a barber later this year, plans to keep cutting hair for now.

“I’m going to keep at it for a couple of years, I know for sure,” he said. “I told Johnny I don’t know what I’ll do the second two years. I’ll be 81 then. Who knows? I don’t have a clue. I love what I’m doing. I wouldn’t be doing it at 79 years old otherwise.”

Stating that many of his customers already come from Lady’s Island, Ray doesn’t expect to lose many with the move. But after nearly 60 years of working in his family’s business, there is more involved in the move than just customers.

“I’m going to miss some of this stuff,” he said. “I’m probably going to cry the first day because of my dad. But sometimes you’ve just got to do things.”

Tony Kukulich is a recent transplant to the Lowcountry. A native of Wilmington, Del., he comes to The Island News from the San Francisco Bay Area where he spent seven years as a reporter and photographer for several publications. He can be reached at tony.theislandnews@gmail.com.

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