Owner Miles Diaz offers a cut and community.
Owner Miles Diaz offers a cut and community.
“My parents named me Miles, because I was born so many miles from home,” said Diaz, who became the barbershop owner about a year ago. “When I was 4 years old, I used to come in and sweep the floor for my grandfather. I would listen to the old guys talk and it was like a clubhouse for my grandfather and his friends. I knew then that when I grew up, I wanted that for me, too.”
“It was my clubhouse, too, because my grandfather and I were always together here. He was my bulwark and we were super close. After he passed away, I didn’t want to see his legacy die. I have one client that’s been coming here since 1966. He told me that he was glad I’m younger than him because I can cut his hair until his dying day,” said Diaz.
Well-mannered and gregarious, Diaz doesn’t hide the fact that he made a lot of bad choices in his life. “I went down the wrong path for a while and I was incarcerated three times.”
Diaz noted with a chuckle that today some of his clients are law enforcement officers. “I tell them that I went from er Shop and I show up for a few minutes most days just to say hi and see how everyone is doing.”
Ray’s Barber Shop was named after Lazaro’s best friend, Ray Casina, who was also a barber. The original location was next to Macy’s European Coffee House on Beaver Street. “It was a small shop with only two chairs,” said Diaz. “It was like a closet. Maybe the size of my break room.”
Working alongside Diaz are barbers Lucas Barbaro and Salvador Floriano. “Many people think Salvador is my son because he looks like he’s 12 years old, but he’s actually 21. He’s a talented barber and customers love him.”
Retired Army Officer and Northern Arizona University (NAU) Civil Engineering Student Doug Harman is a regular customer at Ray’s Barber Shop. “Salvador is probably one of the best barbers I’ve ever had. Everyone here is super friendly and they always greet you with a big smile.” Harman’s dog, Liberty, is also welcomed and waits patiently while Harman gets his hair cut.
Historically, barber shops were places of social interaction, and Ray’s Barber Shop fits that description. The ambiance is warm, neighborly and razor sharp clean. Models of old cars, tonic bottles, antique razors, old pictures and other memorabilia are displayed throughout the shop. “We even have a flag from my grandfather’s shop,” said Diaz.
A magazine rack showcases issues of Gentleman’s Quarterly, Classic Cars and fishing and hunting magazines, catering to customers’ interests.
“We have a great mix of customers, “said Barbaro. “People come from all over. There’s an attorney from Winslow, a few from the Grand Canyon and one guy travels all the way from Scottsdale.”
“It seems like we have the old-timers in the morning and college kids in the afternoon, and young professionals throughout the day,” said Barbaro.
Though there are a few female clients, Barbaro likes to call it his “man cave.”
Retired schoolteacher and longtime Flagstaff resident Diana Gabaldon, cousin to the Outlander series author who shares the same name, remembers Ray’s Barber Shop from almost 20 years ago. “I was looking for a place to get my grandson’s haircut. He is autistic and also had long thick ringlets. He didn’t like anyone touching his hair. I explained our situation to the barber, Felix, and he did an amazing job. My grandson sat still, which is a miracle in itself.”
According to Barberhead.com, Ray’s Barber Shop is considered one of the best and most popular barber shops in Flagstaff and was rated 4.5 out of 5 by 122 unique and verified visitors. Along with haircuts, offerings include beard trims, and Barbero offers a chest and back shave.
Recalling his troubled youth, Diaz is working with a non-profit to provide free haircuts to troubled kids. “If they look good, they’ll feel good about themselves,” said Diaz.
With four children, two boys and two girls between the ages of 12 and 17, Diaz and his wife, Brenda, who is assistant manager of Facilities at Northern Arizona University (NAU), spend as much time together as possible. “My wife and kids are all amazing,” said Diaz.
He also spends time with his grandmother, Sferina Diaz, former Flagstaff school teacher at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church. Diaz’s brother, Arty, is finishing his barber training and will be joining the team sometime in the future.
Ray’s Barbershop is located near Visible Difference Art and Drafting Supply and next to Floral Arts of Flagstaff at 122 South Beaver. Hours are Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Walk-ins are welcome. To reach the shop, call 928-225-1067.
BEST ADVICE FOR NEW BUSINESS OWNERS
Be confident, relaxed and self-motivated.
Tomahawk steaks from Sam’s Club. I often eat them for breakfast and sometimes I grill out in the back of the shop.
My family and I are working on a project restoring my grandfather’s car. He’s been driving since he opened the shop. It’s a 1956 Oldsmobile that gets 9 miles to the gallon going downhill. I still drive it to this day, but not in the wintertime.
FAVORITE VACATION SPOT
Rocky Point, Mexico.
CHARACTER TRAITS THAT BEST DESCRIBE ME
Very outgoing and sharp. It’s hard to put one over on me. FBN
By V. Ronnie Tierney
Photo by V. Ronnie Tierney, Fresh Focuses Photography: Miles Diaz says clients drive from Phoenix for a cut.
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