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State-run barber’s in Hanoi cuts hair for nearly six decades

State-run barber’s in Hanoi cuts hair for nearly six decades

Monday, November 30, 2015, 19:03 GMT+7

The barber shop Mau Dich at 6 Trang Thi Street in Hoan Kiem District is unique in Hanoi, not only in the style of service but also in the memory of a subsidized economy from the capital’s past time.

The name “Mau Dich,” which means “trade,” also refers to the time of a subsidized economy when customers of all state-owned shops that did haircuts or “traded” vegetables, meat, rice, and construction materials needed to have coupons to be served.

The hairdresser’s was established in 1957 and has been in service since.

Faithful male customers of the shop have nominated the female barbers there “the First-Rate Scissors” thanks to their cleverness.

The average age of the female barbers at Mau Dich is around 50.

Huu Anh has been a patron of the barber shop for decades and often takes his five-year-old grandson to have his hair cut there too.

Hairdressers there know him and his favorite style well, so he does not need to explain it.

Barbers at Mau Dich do not just offer haircuts, but also chat with customers, just like any other shops.

This explains the proverb “Every barber knows that.”

At the time of opening in 1957, the shop was managed by a joint venture which later changed its name to Hanoi Services and Food Company.

Now, the shop belongs to the state-owned Hanoi Services and Tourism Company.

All barbers at Mau Dich are on the payroll of the state company.

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Chris, a Briton, has his hair cut at the Mau Dich barber's in Hanoi. Photo: Tuoi Tre

The barber’s has both male and female hairdressers but serves only male customers.

Vu Hong Ha, one of the six female barbers, said, “This job is light and suitable for women.

“I only look at the face of customers and their manner and can guess their favorite hairstyle.”

At Mau Dich, barbers work seven days a week all year round.

They have only several days off during the Lunar New Year festival and return to work on the fifth day of the first month in the lunar calendar, as well as any official of state agencies.

Their salary is from VND5 million (US$222) to VND6 million ($267) a month. In addition, they have other grants, allowances, and bonuses from the state during national festivals.

Dao Xuan Tan, 54, head of Mau Dich, recalled a time when Hanoi had only a few barber shops and customers had to wait in long queues to be served at his place.

Initially, Mau Dich was set up to cut the hair of state officials only, he added.

Several television stations from Germany and the UK have visited Mau Dich to make feature reports about the hairdressing industry in Vietnam.

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