DE QUEEN, AR— After finishing High School, Gehri Packnett was looking for a job when he discovered an opportunity that ended up lasting him a lifetime.
In February of 1962, he walked into a Barber shop in De Queen, Arkansas and he hasn’t had any other job since being given a chance that day.
After completing barber college in Little Rock, Gehri began his career at the shop that was then called “George’s,” and after 10 years he bought the business and changed the storefront’s name to his own in 1972. The shop changed ownership again 36 years later in 2008 when Gehri’s stepson, Jeff purchased it and gave the store his name. Now, the duo work side by side together and provide services for a faithful base of clients who have counted on them since the days of their first childhood trims.
Cutting hair on the Downtown Square in De Queen was the first job Gehri ever got, the only job he has ever had, and the only job he says he ever wants. In February 2022, the Oklahoma native will celebrate 60 years of visiting with customers, sharing stories, preparing locals for special occasions and “making those guys look good.”
For six decades, Gehri has watched the community change and grow as businesses in the Southwest border town have come and gone over the years. Despite receiving offers in Texarkana, Arkadelphia, and Little Rock, Gehri has turned down every business proposition to come his way because he only wants to live and work in De Queen. “This is home,” he says. “I grew up 8 miles from De Queen on the state line near the Rock creek area of Oklahoma. I’ve given a lot of these guys their first haircuts and I still cut their hair to this day.”
Patrons of the shop can build a relationship with guys who know the town’s history and have run a family business in the same location for more than half a century. The Father and Stepson team are currently the shop’s only employees, but in the past, Gehri’s Wife Judy, sister Terri, and his son, Scott have helped out with maintaining the family-owned operation.
When asked the secret of his business and career longevity, Gehri says simply “Sticking with it” is the key. Continuing to “stick with it” is exactly what Gehri Packnett intends to do, as he says he has no plans for retirement, and he intends to cut hair in De Queen Arkansas until his last days.
Jeff’s Barber shop is located at 308 West De Queen Avenue in Downtown De Queen, Arkansas, and they are open Tuesday-Friday from 7:00am-5:00pm and Saturdays 7:00am-2:00pm.