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Phil’s Matador Barber Shop 525 S. Fourth Ave. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon 303-659-1658 BRIGHTON — Phil Trujillo learned three main …
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Phil’s Matador Barber Shop
525 S. Fourth Ave.
Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon
BRIGHTON — Phil Trujillo learned three main rules for customer interaction when he became a barber.
“Don’t talk politics, don’t talk domestic problems or personal problems, don’t give any advice,” Trujillo said. “Stay away from those three things.”
It turns out Phil and his customers found plenty of other things to talk about for the past four decades.
Phil’s Matador Barbers and Hairstylists, 525 S. Fourth Ave., celebrates 40 years in business this month. Phil and Lucy Trujillo received their certificate of occupancy Oct. 30, 1969, and the next day (Halloween) they were delivering the first of many, many haircuts.
Phil began his career cutting hair in 1967 after careers in construction and insurance sales.
“I had a brother that had gone into barbering and I thought ‘Maybe I’ll try that,’” Phil said. “I wasn’t sure if I’d be any good at it. Turns out I was almost like a natural. As soon as I started in (barbering) school, I was able to learn fast and do it well.”
He barbered for six months at Cokely’s Barber Shop on South Main Street, then moved to the Belmont Barber Shop on North Main Street. He co-owned the shop with George Maes and eventually bought out Maes. After Lucy received her license in 1968, they ran the shop together.
Phil was the first barber in Brighton to offer razor cuts and hairstyling. Their popularity quickly helped them outgrow their customer base. Phil and Lucy, with the help of Phil’s brothers, Pete and Ralph, built the combination home/business Matador Barber Shop on Fourth Avenue in 1969.
“We had closed up the other shop on North Main, so a lot of people were waiting,” Phil said of the first day in their new location. “Once we opened up, it was good.”
Business was good enough that they hired Larry Garcia to help cut hair. Garcia worked at the barbershop for 13 years until he retired due to health reasons.
The barbering tradition ran in the family. Phil and Lucy’s daughter, Sharon, attended Mr. Robert’s Beauty Academy in Brighton and then barbered for 11 years at the shop before she married and moved to the Cañon City/Pueblo area in 1990.
Sharon originally went to school to become a music therapist (Phil is a talented musician) but, when it didn’t work out, she turned to the family business.
“I saw they had good contact with people, they enjoyed what they were doing, they were making a good living,” she said. “I thought ‘Well, I can do that.’”
After her husband, Kim, became sick and spent a great deal of time in a Denver hospital, Sharon came back to work at the shop for a couple years. Sharon returned to the shop full-time after Kim lost his battle with cancer in February.
If Phil has always been careful to stay away from discussions about politics and personal issues, it begs the question, “What does he talk about with his customers?”
“Weather,” he said.
“Fishing,” Sharon added.
“Fishing,” Lucy echoed.
Adams County District Court Judge Vince Phelps has been a customer for 35 years. He was just a practicing attorney in Brighton when he first stopped by the barbershop in 1974 after a recommendation from a colleague.
“I’ve been stopping in to see Phil and Lucy, good grief, every three or four weeks for 35 years,” Phelps said with a laugh. “I hadn’t really thought about how long it had been.”
It didn’t take long for Phelps to become acquainted with Phil’s fishing prowess. He invited Phil on a fishing trip to northern Saskatchewan in 1989. They flew to Canada on Phelps’ private plane and met up with Phelps’ other friend in search of walleye and lake trout.
But, before they could start fishing, Phil became seriously ill with diverticulitis, the swelling of an abnormal pouch in the intestinal wall.
“They had to Medevac him about 10:30/11 at night back down to Saskatoon,” Phelps said. “Instead of fishing for four days, he spent four days in the hospital.”
Phelps and his friend went on with their fishing expedition while Phil convinced doctors to stabilize his condition and let him return to Colorado for surgery.
“Unbeknownst to them and unbeknownst to me, it had burst,” Phil said. “I was a lot sicker than I thought I was.”
“We flew into Saskatoon on the way home and they had brought him over to the airport,” Phelps added. “They wheeled him out to my airplane and helped him in, and I said, ‘Buddy, you don’t look good.’
Phelps calls the flight back to Van Aire Estates in Brighton, where his plane was based, one of the fastest he ever made.
Phil’s family was waiting to transport him to a hospital when they landed. His troubles weren’t over. He had developed peritonitis, – an inflammation of the thin membrane that lines the abdominal wall and covers the organs – and nearly died. Trujillo spent 14 days in intensive care and 30 more days in the hospital. It was eight months before Phil returned to work.
“They didn’t think I’d make it but He didn’t want me yet,” Phil said. “That was rough.”
Phelps couldn’t help but gush about all the fish they caught while Phil was in a hospital bed and Phil made the fishing trip to Canada later on with another group.
Of course, not all customers can share quite as dramatic stories. But they still have their rightful place in the barbershop … literally. The shop is lined with signs, trinkets and gifts all collected by customers during their travels that they thought would just be perfect for Phil and Lucy, even a small model of an outdoor latrine that declares “Phil and Lucy’s Outhouse.”
With the now rare combination of home and business, more than a few customers have become familiar with the smells of Lucy’s cooking wafting into the barbershop as well.
“People come in and say, ‘Ah, what’s your wife cooking? It smells good,’” Phil said.
The Trujillos are getting older, Phil, at 71, has been semi-retired for some time and Lucy is on the mend from back surgery. But, with the help of Sharon, they have no plans to stop cutting hair any time soon.
“I want to keep on doing it because I’d climb the wall if I didn’t have something to do,” Phil said.
Phelps marveled at the fact he has been getting his hair cut at Phil’s for so long. He really hadn’t even thought about it, it was just simply like stopping by on a regular basis to see a friend.
“They care about their customers and it shows. They do. There isn’t any question,” Phelps said. “The fact of the matter is, after the first two or three times you go in there, the next time you go in it’s, ‘You want the usual?’ and that’s all you have to say. No directions needed. They know how to do it."
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