Ali Brosnan, a barber for 40 years


The start of the week bears no need for celebration for most, but for hairdresser Ali Brosnan this coming Monday marks 40 years in the business.

A born and bred Oamaru local, Mr Brosnan has a strong passion for his business with no intention of putting his scissors aside any time soon.

“I’ve met a lot of good people and made many friends in this job,” he said.

“I’m enjoying doing what I’m doing . . . I’ll be here as long as I keep enjoying it.”

The master barber entered the profession on a whim as a 16-year-old .

“It was pretty impromptu,” he said.

“I went in for a haircut one day from Steenie Browne in 1969. Within three days I had earned myself an apprenticeship.

“School teachers were keen to see me leave St Kevin’s.”

In 1974 the then 21-year-old fresh off completing his apprenticeship, took the plunge into the business world taking over a barber’s previously owned by Jim Keen.

“I was just nearing the end of my apprenticeship and I always pictured myself as a business owner.

“We started off as a barber’s shop, those days we were a tobaconist and barber’s shop.

“We had a lady in the shop and I did the haircuts.”

Soon after taking the reins the small operation began to rapidly expand.

“Within six months we were up to three [employees].”

At one stage there were up to 11 people working with Mr Brosnan, he estimated he had seen well over 30 people working for him across the years.

These days, the tobacconist and barber’s has been converted to Ali Brosnan Family Haircare and still remains on the original site in Thames St.

“For years we still sold smokes but with the legislation changes we decided to pull out of the smoke business.”

Over the years Mr Brosnan has seen thousands of customers through his doors, however not all of them returned.

“I was trimming an old chappie here one day with hearing aides that had the cord running down his neck and I cut the wire for his aides. Needless to say he didn’t come back for a haircut.

“I learnt to be a lot more careful.”


PHOTO: Ali Brosnan gets down to business on long time customer Jim Keen’s hair.

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