“He was kind of a cornerstone there on Main Street,” said longtime client Clint Demetriou, of Johns Creek. “Neal was a constant in the community.”
Murphy said after turning 70 and spending 50 years in the barber shop business, he was ready to retire.
Murphy bought the shop in 1964. He was living in Alabama at the time, where he had been cutting hair for two years, and was visiting his parents in Tucker when his father’s barber offered to sell the shop to him.
“For the first 25 years, I had three barbers, then I got down to two, and then about the last 10 years, I ran it by myself,” he said.
Murphy explained his skill at cutting the flat top hairstyle helped business.
“In the 1960s, when I got in the business, if you didn’t know how to cut a flat top, you might as well not get in the business,” he said. “So I’ve cut a lot of flat tops in my day.”
The 1970s brought the most significant hairstyle changes, he said, as men started growing their hair out and the bowl cut became a popular style for children.
“The haircut that I hated the worst was the bowl cut,” he added. “About the time I learned how to cut the bowl cut, it went away.”
Demetriou said Murphy was something of a historian in the community. Murphy said he used to cut the hair of many local businessmen and preachers and the first cousin of former state Gov. Lester Maddox.
“He’s somebody that had seen Tucker from ‘64 to the present,” Demetriou explained. “He knew the people. He knew the stories of the people and of Tucker. It was just fun to go there and have somebody who had known you all those years — and he gave a great hair cut too.”
He said some clients, himself included, would go out of their way to travel to Tucker for a haircut after moving out of the area.
Murphy said not seeing his regular customers is what he will miss most about the shop.
“There’s no doubt [I’ll miss] my customers,” he said. “They were like family.”
As for how Murphy plans to spend his retirement, he said he has no major plans yet and is just taking it day by day.