Midway Barber Shop felt the support of the community this week after its front window was broken in the middle of the night on Aug. 28.
The barber shop said neither they nor the police know who is responsible for the damage or the motivation behind the incident.
“I’m not going to speculate on anything,” said Stepney Edwards, who has owned and managed Midway Barber Shop for 35 years. “It could have just been some kids playing with a pellet gun or it could have been something else. There’s just no way of knowing.”
Edwards estimated repairs will cost up to $2,000, but he said he is thankful to the members of the community who have offered to help with the costs.
“Even my junior high school teacher offered to help some,” he said. “Forty years later, imagine that. I guess I made an impact on somebody's life somehow.”
Customers have stopped by to tell Edwards they are thinking about him, he said, but most of the money for the repairs is going to have to come out of his own pocket.
Midway Barber Shop was one of the first black-owned businesses in Carrboro, celebrating its 70th birthday this year since it was opened by Edwards’ father, Stephen Edwards, in 1948. Stephen Edwards was inducted into the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce Business Hall of Fame in 2015.
“Midway is a sort of a social hub," Edwards said. "It's a place where people can come and say what's on their mind. Some people have country clubs, the rest of us regular people have barber shops."
Edwards said Midway has always been a place for people to talk and share stories, filling the role of what a community barber shop should be.
"This place has always been about more than just cutting hair,” he said. “Although you do want a good cut, and I’d like to say we’re pretty good at that too.”
Midway's influence reaches even beyond Carrboro and Chapel Hill.
Jonte Armstrong has been getting his hair cut at Midway for 16 years, despite living half an hour away in Durham.
“I love the atmosphere, the conversations, how long this place has been a part of everything,” he said. “I don’t like that people might have wanted to mess with the place.”
Armstrong had not heard about the damage to Midway until he saw the window in person, but he said the community would always support the barber shop.
Of the recent damage, Edwards said he has been more watchful these past several weeks given the protests surrounding the Silent Sam monument. He noted that someone cut the power to his shop around the same time as the damage to the window occurred but wasn't sure if the two incidents were connected.
“There’s lots going on in town, all kinds of people coming in, so you’ve gotta be extra careful,” he said. “But it’s the same stuff all the time – same stuff my father went through, always happening. It's just the things happening lately that make it kind of suspicious.”
Edwards said he hasn't seen unrest in Chapel Hill in a long time, but lately he sees tensions he had hoped were buried years ago.
"This sort of thing used to happen all the time," he said. "Then there was a lull for a while, and now with the new president and everything, we're seeing some of that hatred coming back."
The window is temporarily repaired, and the shop is taking customers again after Labor Day weekend. Edwards said he hopes a full repair will come soon, and the messages of support from the community have been more encouraging than ever.
"It's just a little setback," Edwards said, remaining optimistic about the future. "We'll move past it like we always do."
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.