PIQUA — The Matador Hair Studio is closing its doors after over 50 years of service to the Piqua community.
Owned and operated by Jim Foster, The Matador has been a staple in Piqua since it opened in 1970 at 124 S. Wayne St., Piqua. The Matador stayed in the South Wayne Street location for 11 years before Foster moved to the current location at 211 E. Ash St., Piqua, in 1981.
Foster originally found an interest in hair cutting and becoming a barber when he was around 11 years old when his brother needed a haircut and his father let him watch as he cut his brothers hair. His father had been the go-to “barber” for his fellow soldiers in the foxholes during WWII. Though his father was not able to attend barber school, he taught Foster everything he knew.
“I have always been a very inquisitive person about anything. I like seeing how things are made and operate and things. Dad was trying to cut my brother’s hair and he would look at me and say ‘is that straight?’ and I said ‘no.’ So my brother got a pretty bad haircut the first time,” said Foster. “I was 11 or 12 and dad sat down on the stool that he used to cut our hair. He said, ‘You want to learn to cut hair? I’ll teach you.’ That’s when I started cutting hair.”
He graduated high school and immediately went to barber school in 1965. Though he graduated from barber school, Foster did not immediately open The Matador. After barber school, Foster enlisted in the U.S. Army and served from 1966 to 1969. When he returned home, The Matador opened in 1970 and has been operating since.
“I have had some great experiences. This guy called me from Washington D.C. and it was Congressman Bill McCulloch. He said ‘I’m Congressman Bill McCulloch in Washington D.C. and I hear you’re the best barber in Piqua, Ohio,’” said Foster. “Bill McCulloch walked in and got a hair cut.”
Foster also recounted a man who was a regular at The Matador who ended up moving out of the U.S., but continued to come back to get his haircuts from Foster.
The last day of business for Foster and The Matador was March 29, 2023.
Foster decided to close up shop because he was finally able to sell the building after 10 years of trying. Now, he plans to enjoy his retirement with his wife Barbara Foster by travelling, spending time with their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He also wants to spend more time honing his wood carving skills. Foster has been carving for 24 years now.
“The people that you cut their hair, they’re not customers. They’re friends,” said Foster. “I don’t call them customers. They’ve raised my children, they’ve cried with us and laughed with us and when something bad happened you go help them and they’d come help us. And I’m not lying. That’s something that’s very true.”