Barber says adieu to Whidbey clients, friends after 30 years

Theresa Johnson

After nearly three decades of cutting hair on South Whidbey, Theresa Johnson set down her shears for good this week.

The longtime Freeland stylist officially retired Wednesday, closing her home-based salon on Dorsey Drive. She and her husband are heading for warmer climes and a new life in Hemet, Calif., a small city that’s about a 45-minute drive from Palm Springs. They’ll also spend part of the year in the Lake Stevens area, as fair-weather residents of Lake Connor Park.

In an interview with The Record on her last day in business, Johnson said she’s looking forward to retirement but that the goodbyes have been tough. Some of her customers she’s had for 30 years, and they’ve become more than just clients ‚ they’re friends. And the feeling is mutual.

“She’s loved by a lot of people,” said Freeland resident Jim Mock, who got his last trim from Johnson Wednesday.

Counting her as a sister, Mock said Johnson watched him get old, joking that he didn’t have a single grey hair on his head when he first started coming to her in the late 1980s. Visiting her about once a month ever since, she’s given him approximately 350 haircuts.

Finding a new barber after so long won’t be easy.

“I’m just going to quit getting my hair cut,” he laughed. “She’s irreplaceable.”

Johnson waved off the compliment.

“I’ve got ’em all buffaloed,” she said.

Johnson began her career on South Whidbey as a stylist for Paul’s. She opened her Freeland salon in the 1990s. Before that she spent time in the Seattle area working in prestigious salons, serving on the Northwest Hair Fashion Committee and once traveling to San Francisco to compete in a national competition.

Johnson gave up the fast-paced city life and moved to South Whidbey, and she’s never looked back. Growing old with customers like Mock, and many others, has been a personally rewarding experience. Like bartenders, she admits she knows “a lot of secrets” and has made true and lasting relationships.

“I chose my profession well,” Johnson said.

She thanked her customers for their many years of support and friendship.