Big Daddy's Barbershop has over 50 years of history in Flint

FLINT, Michigan — Big Daddy’s Barber Shop (BDBS), formerly known as Boyd’s Magic Clippers and Beauty Shop (BMCBS), is a staple establishment of Flint that has served the community for decades.

What began as John & Dave’s Barbershop in the city’s former St. John’s neighborhood is now one of the longest-running businesses of its kind in town. Since the 1950s, when the original owners, John Boyd and Dave Veasley, began their venture, BDBS has fostered a particular culture that spans generations. 

On a recent visit to BDBS, several patrons, along with original barber Rene Dickson and owner/barber Maurice Dantzler discussed fond memories of the “old shop” on Lomita Ave. According to Dantzler, Veasley approached Boyd about partnering up after building their reputations as good barbers at Chapman’s Barber Shop. Dave began his professional barbering career after Chapman requested his talents in his shop. 

Chapman had long been frustrated with having many customers and not enough barbers to fill the chairs. Then, one day while expressing his discontent with the situation, Veasley, a recent barber school graduate who solicited his services, spoke up, saying, “I have my barbers license.”

Desperately wanting to satisfy his line of patrons quickly, Chapman challenged the eager young barber to hurry home and retrieve his license and clippers to start cutting in his shop immediately. 
“I said let’s call it Big Daddy’s,” Dantzler remembers.Veasley and Boyd became favorites in Chapman’s and eventually took over the business when the owner passed away. The duo then relocated the Clifford Street shop to Selby St. and renamed it after themselves.

However, their new success was short-lived when the City of Flint condemned their building along with numerous other establishments in the St. John neighborhood to make way for the 475-freeway project.

Undeterred, the partners sought another place for their operation, and in 1983 Boyd and Veasley welcomed patrons and three talented barbers to their new shop on Lomita Ave. Dickson was the first hair stylist to come on board. Then with the owner’s blessings, she hired Dantzler and Keema. That’s where Magic Clippers began and remained for twenty-seven years until Boyd’s passing in 2010. 

Filling that leadership void in the company was Dantzler, who instantly went about improving the comfortability level at Clippers. The new part-owner strongly believed the structure built by John and Dave wasn’t suitable anymore for their loyal customers.

He pushed to relocate the establishment once more to a shop that was more appealing to old and new clients. But initially, the co-founder was reluctant to abandon the place that helped create so many memorial moments for him and Flint residents. 

Patrons enjoy lively conversation and barbershop antics inside Big Daddy's Barber Shop.
Dickson wasn’t a fan of the idea immediately, saying, “I wasn’t going to go because I wanted to stay with John. I was going to stay and work it out.” However, after giving it much thought and consulting with her late husband, she decided to join her co-workers and now longtime friends. Unsurprisingly, some of the Clippers’ patrons were also against the move and vocally expressed their displeasure to the shop’s family. 

Finally, after careful consideration, the retired General Motors employee and Army Veteran agreed to a property change under one condition. The business name Magic Clippers, which can still vaguely be seen on the abandoned edifice today, would not transfer with the group.

As a result, the barbers were forced to choose a brand-new name – something original yet catchy and as familiar as their reputation.
An inside look at Big Daddy's Barbershop serving the community for over 50 years.
“I said let’s call it Big Daddy’s,” Dantzler remembers suggesting to his fellow barbers, who agreed except for one person – Dickson.

“It just sounded freaky! So I wanted to name it something simple,” Dickson smiled. 

In the end, the veteran hair stylist was outvoted, again, by her colleagues for the Big Daddy title, as that had been Dave’s nickname for decades. 

“So, I said OK, I lost that one. It is what is – Big Daddy’s,” Dickson went on jokingly, causing laughter throughout the shop now on the Southside of town.

But as with John and Dave’s, Veasley didn’t enjoy the namesake and new place very long. Before his passing in 2020, the dedicated community member and golf fanatic fell ill and retired to a senior living center. Dickson recalls Veasley’s love for the youth who visited Clippers, telling how he gifted them with holiday presents, rewarded their scholastic achievements, and served as a mentor.

Dave was also known for his humor which kept patrons laughing and returning each week. 

“You just never knew what he’d say next,” explains one client. “Sometimes I’d go there for a cut and find myself being there for hours just enjoying the interesting conversations.”

Find Big Daddy’s Barber Shop at 3725 S. Saginaw St. in Flint. For more information, visit their website and follow them on Facebook.

Read more articles by Omoro Collins.