You already know by now, if Randy Cordova’s been the guy cutting your hair, it’s time to find another barber.
After 21 years at Randy’s Family Shop on Southern Boulevard, just east of its intersection with Unser Boulevard, Cordova sold the shop.
Naturally, it was a bittersweet decision and, keeping with the times, Cordova posted a humble message on his shop’s Facebook page: “ … it is with heavy hearts that we announce that this December 24th, 2021, we will be closing our shop for good. We have been blessed by the most loyal customers from all walks of life, all backgrounds, and all beliefs. Here at Randy’s, we wanted above all for anyone in our community to come together to enjoy the experience of a quality haircut in good company. We have proudly served our firefighters, police officers, first responders, essential workers, and any other public servants that have and/or continue to support our community. … More than that, we are grateful to have served the people of our community regardless of profession, personal belief, background, or circumstance and tried our best to make everyone in our shop feel respected and valued.”
“It was so sad,” co-owner Maria Cordova, who’s also Randy’s wife, said of the decision to close. “It was a combination of everything, (including the pandemic). After the second shutdown, it kind of set (in motion) — at the end of this year — if the economy wasn’t any better, it was time to get out.
“This barbershop has been a blessing in our lives,” she added. “It has been a wonderful trade for both of us — we made it and it was good. It was hard to let the shop go, because we got so attached to all our customers.”
But, she continued, “It was time to retire — our family needs us,” she said. “We couldn’t have had more support.”
The Cordovas have four children — Gabe, Celina, Cecelia and Ryan — and one grandson, whom Randy was napping with before the Observer called Tuesday to chat with him.
Randy Cordova, 63, grew up in Belen (graduating from Belen High School in 1976), aspiring initially to be a professional boxer, and he tasted success at an early age — first as a Police Athletic League and Golden Gloves national champ, then later in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he was a three-time champ in three different weight classes, and — without a boycott of the Summer Olympics Games in 1980 — an Olympian, too.
Casey Cordova started the Belen Boxing Club in 1979, and he ran Sportsman’s Barber Shop at Candelaria and 12th Street NW in Albuquerque for 40 years.
“My dad coached me,” Randy remembered. “I started out with another coach, Charlie Carrejo; he lasted about a year, I guess. He decided to quit. We had won regional championships, so my dad took over and we went to the nationals. I came in second (probably 1973). I won the nationals the next year, and then went into the Marine Corps after that (for five years). … Dad loved boxing; he loved the sport.”
But “Dad” was a barber, and he gave Randy work at his shop.
“I started there as a shine boy … I used to sweep the shop,” he said. “When Nike (sports shoes) came out, everyone had tennis shoes.” Randy later became a barber, following in his father’s clippings.
“I’m from Colorado,” Maria Cordova said, recalling how she met her husband of 32 years. “My brothers were out here; they tried to talk me into coming out here. I was at the (non-commissioned officers) club (at Kirtland Air Force Base) for years; I helped manage it. (Randy) was a barber there; that’s where we met.”
What’s next for the Cordovas?
“We want to spend more time with our family,” Maria said. “We take care of both our dads. We have one grandson and we love it. We might do a little bit of traveling, (although) Randy’s happy being at home; I’m going to Hawaii, with or without him… he’s not one to do all kinds of traveling — he’s a major homebody.”
There’s no doubt they’ll miss the shop, their home away from home. However, it’s been sold, and all that’s left for the couple are two decades’ worth of memories.
“We had a lot of cool people — military, police officers — to me, they’re all famous,” Randy replied, when asked who’d been the “most-famous” head he’d worked on.
As a profession, he said barbering “is still going pretty good. It’s harder to get people to work and stay committed; they come in and go — that’s what makes it tough for a barber.
“It takes a lot to run a barbershop — that’s the thing they’re lost — the work ethic,” he said, recalling two of the “greats” who’d worked for the Cordovas: Javy Hamadi, “one of our most loyal and committed barbers; he worked 12 years, I think; and Virginia Monclova, (a five-year employee). We’ve had others that were with us many, many years.”
His wife, he added, “was a hair-cutter and she did a little bit of everything — bookkeeper, our boss — one of the hardest workers there, keeping track of everybody.”
Perhaps the Cordovas summed it up best on Facebook:
“We have prided ourselves on our effort to take on the best workers to help us serve our clientele and we will keep our social media accounts active for a few months after the new year begins for all our customers to be able to connect and follow their favorite barbers and hair stylists wherever their paths may take them beyond our shop.
“We extend the greatest love and thanks to all our workers, former and current. Your devotion to our shared clients has helped shape our barber shop into the prime example of what a good business should be.”
Barbershop’s new owners vow to continue Cordovas’ service
“We pride ourselves on putting the community first,” says Irene Leaton, owner of Old School New Styles Barber Shop, which bought Cordovas’ location.
“With a lot of small business closing in this time due to the pandemic, I have struggled very hard to keep the doors open to give our barbers a good place to work and so I would like the community to know (Randy’s) is still open for business and here to serve the public.”