Near the corner of Linwood and W 70th St, sitting in the corner of a strip mall is Long’s. At first glance, it’s hard to determine exactly what storefront is. Is it a barbershop or a notary? Maybe it’s a locksmith that also sharpens knives?
Actually, all of the above is the correct answer. Since 1959, Long’s has been providing many invaluable services to the Cedar Grove neighborhood.
Long’s was started in 1959 by Johnny Long, dubbed by locals as the “unofficial Mayor of Cedar Grove.” An Army veteran, Johnny Long started the store as a barbershop, but over the years grew the shop into a multi-functional business, providing locksmith, key making, knife sharpening, and notary services. At one point Long’s also did state vehicle inspections and had a small used car lot.
In 1988, Johnny’s son John decided he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps. “I told him I wanted to take over the family business,” John Long said. “My daddy told me it wouldn’t be an easy life, but it would be a good life.” And by his own account, it has been.
Today John Long operates Long’s, which is now the oldest continuously run barbershop in the Ark-La-Tex. “My daddy built some of this place with his bare hands,” Long said.
The atmosphere inside is very casual. There’s only one barber’s chair, which John mans and the inside is decorated with memorabilia, including a signed picture of the oldest living Confederate veteran, who was the grandfather to Gerald Hall, a man who used to work at Long’s while Johnny still ran the place.
As John cuts hair he likes to tell jokes and make his customers feel welcome. “I want my customers to feel like they are guests in my living room,” he said. As we talk, John begins telling a joke, but his customer, who is a regular, finishes it for him. “I’ve heard that joke so many times,” the customer says as he laughs.
Before John became the owner and operator, he was just a kid, shining shoes in his Dad’s store. He tells me about one day around 1970 when a large black limousine pulled up out front. A very well dressed man came inside and asked Gerald directors to the Shreveport Auditorium. Gerald gave him directions as the man looked around. “I see you’re a guitar picker,” the well-dressed man said motioning to Gerald’s guitar in the corner. Gerald told him he was and the man said he was something of a guitar picker too and asked if he could play something for him. Gerald agreed and the man came back in with a large guitar case and sat and entertained Gerald and a young John Long for several minutes, playing rhythm and blues.
The well-dressed man was none other than B.B. King, and John still has the same chair that King sat and played for him over 40 years ago.
Long’s has been witness to the rise and fall that Shreveport has experienced over the last few decades. John remembers when 70th street was just a boulevard. These days, he relies on his regulars to keep the shop open, as well as people in the neighborhood that come in to use his other services.
John Long also has a special he runs: any veteran can come in and get a haircut for free. It started years ago when a man came in and paid John five times his normal price, telling John to save the money incase a veteran without any money came in and needed a haircut. Today, as long as there is still money in the fund, a veteran can get their haircut for free.
If you want to take a walk down memory lane and experience a classic Shreveport gem, you can visit Long’s Monday-Saturday. John says he’s open from 9 am to 6 pm. Long’s is cash only, and you’ll be sure to leave with a smile on your face.