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Spring Hill barber has taken his shop on the road

SPRING HILL — Invoking the name of the 1950s TV Western Have Gun — Will Travel, barber Anthony Florio showed off the message on his new card: "Have Scissors, Will Travel."

The owner of the Weeki Wachee Barber Shop, at the corner of U.S. 19 and Northcliffe Boulevard since 1991, Florio watched over the years as many of his customers grew older and less mobile.

So, Florio recently launched a new endeavor, the Traveling Barber.

He will come to a home, office or health care facility — anywhere in or around Spring Hill and Brooksville — and charge only $15 per cut.

He hatched the idea a couple of years ago, but couldn't institute it until his son, Anthony Jr., joined him as a newly licensed barber in the shop, freeing Dad to take his show on the road.

One day last month, Anthony senior packed his briefcase-sized aluminum carryall with scissors, clippers, towel, drape, brushes and talcum powder to answer the call of Weegi Wheelock, a resident in Seven Hills. Wheelock, who gave his age as, "80-81, something like that," said he'd fallen down the stairs not long ago. He injured a knee, he said, and had trouble getting around.

In response to the first ad the Traveling Barber ran in the Tampa Bay Times in November, the housebound Wheelock called. He was not a previous customer of the Weeki Wachee Barber Shop, but his hair was so long, he said, that it covered his ears and impaired his hearing.

Wheelock settled into a kitchen chair for his second at-home ministration by Florio.

"He's a magician," Wheelock declared. "If they ever put a barber in the Olympics, he'd be the winner. He'd be my entry."

As Florio combed and snipped, Wheelock said, "I used to run into those little shops. They didn't know how to cut hair."

Florio, on the other hand, "is the best barber I've found in 80 years," he said as Florio trimmed Wheelock's eyebrows with his scissors.

Wheelock said he plans to use him for the rest of his life and maybe a little longer. After all, he'll need a good trim for his funeral.

"He'll do my last haircut," Wheelock said.

While on the phone at his shop during his first interview with the Times, Florio excused himself; he ran to help an incoming customer who had fallen. The man, he said, was a perfect example of someone who should have called for the Traveling Barber, whose number is (352) 346-0164.

Noted Florio: "I'll come to their home. If they're in wheelchairs. But some want to get out."

But it's not just housebound people who can benefit from Florio's new service.

He'll also take to the road for customers who are short on time: doctors, lawyers, office executives.

Beth Gray can be contacted at graybethn@earthlink.com.

Spring Hill barber has taken his shop on the road 01/20/12 [Last modified: Friday, January 20, 2012 9:13pm]
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