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Captain Kirk’s creates barber shop magic

BRADENTON — “Where’s your mom at?”

Kirk Walker must wish he had a dollar for every time a regular enters his barber shop and utters those words as they drop into his chair.

He’s cool with it though.

Welcome to Captain Kirk’s Midway Barber Shop, 6836 14th St. W., where Walker and his mother, Sherry, are the tonsorial A-team.

“Some guys like that motherly touch,” said Walker, a 39-year-old Flint, Mich. native. “Actually, a lot of the customers like her more — ‘Where’s your mom at?’”

They’ve been working together the last 12 years at Captain Kirk’s, although mom, 30 years in the profession, has lightened her schedule to three days a week.

“I spend more time with him now than I ever did and I really love it,” said Sherry Walker, 58. “It’s a riot.”

The shop, which caters to a diverse clientele, certainly has atmosphere.

“A real neighborhood place,” said Allen Borth, 76.

“The motif is great,” said Rev. John Ringland, 74, of Terra Ceia United Methodist Church.

There are brightly colored model airplanes suspended in mid-air.

There’s a working electric train that runs on a raised track under the ceiling.

“So much of this stuff — like the planes — were brought in by retirees,” Kirk Walker said. “Their wives made them get rid of them, so I hang them up and when they come in, they can still enjoy them.”

The shop also has Sherry Walker’s personal touch.

A devout woman, she likes to write inspirational messages on an old-fashioned chalkboard.

To wit:

“Is what you’re doing taking you in the right direction?”

“It’s a blessing to work here,” she said.

“People come in, talk about their problems, we listen, try to work it through together,” her son said.

In the back is a “Wall of Fame” with hundreds of snapshots of customers then and now.

“A lot of them passed away or now they’re in college,” Kirk Walker said. about their problems, we listen, try to work it through together,” her son said.

In the back is a “Wall of Fame” with hundreds of snapshots of customers then and now.

“A lot of them passed away or now they’re in college,” Kirk Walker said. “It’s neat to follow them, see them grow up. A lot of history up there since I’ve been here.”

That was 18 years ago.

Walker’s mother came to Florida in 1992, knew the shop’s previous owner and found out he needed help.

So she called her son, whom she had sent to barber school.

“He came down two weeks later,” Sherry Walker said.

Kirk Walker ended up buying the shop a year later and named it Captain Kirk’s.

No, not after William Shatner’s character in Star Trek.

Walker, who coaches his three sons in soccer, was captain of the Grand Blanc (Mich.) High Bobcats’ football and basketball teams.

“Mom’s got all my trophies somewhere,” he joked.

After a few more years, Walker asked his mom if she’d come to work for him.

“I needed somebody dependable, and she’s someone I can rely on,” he said.

Sherry Walker was working at a North Port salon at the time — “Making good money,” she said — but heeded her son’s call.

It was a humbling transition.

“The whole barber shop was full, but no one wanted to sit in my chair,” she said. “I knew it would eventually work. It takes awhile for them to trust me to cut their hair. Once they did, they had no problem.”

Kirk Walker was in an awkward spot and had to coax his customers.

“A lot of times Mom’d go outside, her pride was hurt,” he said.

“Where she worked before she was the main attraction of the place, but it paid off. They love her, and she treats the place like it’s her own.”

Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 745-7055.

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