Let Us Introduce You: Larry Cathey

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Salon owner finds family, fulfillment in his work

Larry Cathey has owned The Going Thing Hair Company for 40 years, and has seen many hair salons around campus shut their doors in the years running his barbershop. However, his shop has been the only one of all those hair salons to stick, and is now the only one on campus. The key to his success, according to Cathey, is communication with his customers, whom he refers to as his family.

“I love to see them,” Cathey said of his customers. “Some of them have been with me for years and years. I’ve been cutting their hair and now they bring their kids to me, also.” Unlike the large haircut companies that have become popular recently, Cathey values building connections with his customers and believes that these connections are the reason his customers have stayed loyal to him for so long.

“I’ve even been to hospitals when my customers have been sick, and cut their hair free of charge. It’s just the way I work,” Cathey said. In addition to this, he has made house calls for his patients that haven’t been able to drive to his shop. For Cathey, the effort he puts into communicating with his clients, and making them his friends rather than just his customers, makes his shop a truly unique environment.

In addition to his longtime customers Cathey also loves seeing SLU students come to his shop for his haircuts.

“You’re young, and I love to tell you guys about the good old days and how life was back then,” he said. Cathey, a Vietnam veteran, loves to talk about the war and the events of that era. He also brings up stories about his old customers, who include Father Biondi and former St. Louis Cardinals baseball players. He has an endless amount of tales and loves to create a welcoming atmosphere in his shop.

Surprisingly, Cathey originally did not want to be a barber. However, after he learned to cut hair, he realized that it was his passion. He fondly talked about how, when he first started cutting hair, he felt that his fingers were flying across the hair, and the teacher eventually asked him to monitor other students. From that moment on, Cathey knew that he wanted to become a barber.

After working for five years at a different barbershop, Cathey decided to start The Going Thing Hair Company in 1976. Originally located in the BSC, it now occupies a spot in Marchetti West and has been there since 1979. According to Cathey, some of his customers drive for 20 or 30 minutes to SLU just for his haircuts. A lot of his other customers are SLU students.

In his free time, Cathey enjoys Cardinals games and once had a SLU-sponsored racecar, of which he credits Biondi for helping him. However, his true calling is his work. Cathey comes back every day to run his barbershop because he loves his job and loves talking to his second family.

“I love my work, you know. I love my people and I love to talk to you all. I really wouldn’t give it up for the world. I hope I can do this as long as I can,” Cathey said.