Gorgie Road barbers closes after almost 50 years

Alfonso Russo has owned the shop with Sam since 1970. Picture: Greg Macvean
Alfonso Russo has owned the shop with Sam since 1970. Picture: Greg Macvean
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It has been a cut above since it first opened almost 50 years ago – even if it has kept a single style the entire time.

But now a barbers which has been a mainstay in Gorgie Road since 1971 is set for the chop.

Alfonso Russo and Sam Rizzo, who own Sam’s Place, have decided to retire after decades trimming the locks of the likes of Sean Connery.

While the customers might have changed through the years, the decor has remained untouched, with the friends insisting it has always been just how they like it.

Both from Salerno in Italy, they set up their own shop 
after working together for several years at the International barbers on Dundee Street.

But sadly, Sam, 73, is now battling blood cancer and Alfonso believes it is time to hang up their scissors.

He said: “Sam and I shared the same passion for hairdressing and football.

“In the 70s, Gorgie was a lively place and had loads going for it, from the factory to the football ground.

“That’s why we picked here for our shop.

“There are so many stories to talk about from over the years, I’d be here for hours if I thought about them all.

“Loads of footballers and celebrities remained loyal customers, probably two of the most memorable are Sean Connery and [former Hibs and Celtic goalkeeper] Ronny Simpson.

“I remember cutting Ronny Simpson’s hair just before he went to Lisbon for the 1967 European Cup Final and he said there was ‘no chance’ they would win – but they did.

“Then when I moved to this shop, he continued coming to get his haircut.”

Football photographs and newspaper articles cover the walls of the barbers, which held a closing party this week to allow regular customers – many of whom visit just for a chat and cup of coffee – to bid farewell.

Lesley Walker, who started working at the salon in 1977 when she was just 17, recalled her most memorable day.

She said: “When Hearts won the Scottish Cup in 1998 I distinctly remember John Robertson visiting the shop just a few days after the bus parade.

“With the photographs on the walls and things, we’ve tried to cater for every football team, not just Hearts.

“I think that’s why people continued to return to us, because as well as a haircut they could always get a good chat about the football.”

Keith Burns, 52, from Murrayburn, visited Sam’s Place as it was closing its doors for the final time.

He said: “I’ve been coming here since it opened in the 1970s, since I was a wee boy and for as long as I can remember.

“It’s a really sad day because it’s a Gorgie institution and a key part of our community.

“I never found another barber shop that did a flat top as well Sam’s did back in the day.”

courtney.cameron@jpress.co.uk