Ed Gradin, Vietnam veteran and longtime owner of Maple Glen Barber Shop in Ambler, to retire after 53 years

Ed Gradin, the longtime owner of Maple Glen Barber Shop at 1965 Norristown Road in Ambler, is retiring.

Gradin, a third-generation barber, has been cutting area residents’ hair since 1970. He got his start after serving three years in the Marines and a subsequent 13 months in Vietnam.

“I learned in my grandfather’s barbershop in Ambler. He taught me and my two great uncles, my uncle, my father, and then me. That was in 1964,” Gradin said. “We found the place in Maple Glen, and we got started. It was brand new at the time.”

For 31 of those 53 years, he had the opportunity to work alongside his father, who retired in 2001.

“He was kind of old-school, so we didn’t take much time off. It took about three years to get it off the ground,” he said. “I’ve met some wonderful people over the years, and I’m going to miss them.”

The photo above features Gradin trimming his grandson, Mason, who is now 12 years old.

Ed Gradin and his father, courtesy of Daniel Gradin

The property’s lease is up this year, but he expects the space will remain a barbershop, and intends to help them get started.

“I think I’ll stay on one day a week with the new owners. It’s all guesswork at this point, but I think my last day will be October 1,” he said. “That’s if the agreement happens, and I hope it does. I want someone to take over. The business is there, and all you have to do is what I’ve already done. It’s a nice shopping center. It’s had two facelifts over the past 50 years.”

In reflecting on the past five decades, Mr. Gradin has no regrets and considers his time well spent.

“I’ve never had a bad day,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot from talking to clients. A lot of experiences and crazy things. It’s just amazing what you hear.”

He’s also enjoyed watching Ambler evolve and prosper over the years and is glad to have survived the long-haired era of the 1970s, as well as the pandemic.

“I think Ambler is doing a lot better these days. The town is doing very well and I’m glad for it. It’s been nice to see it changed. The industry took a pretty bad beating in the 1960s through probably 1980, it was the long hair crowd. Kids, adults, elderly. When I came out of the Marines in 1969, shops were closing. People weren’t just getting haircuts,” he said.

“Covid was the worst thing I’ve ever endured. It was a big change, and to this day, things have never completely come back,” he said.

Ed speaking with his daughter, Denise, courtesy of Daniel Gradin

“I would do it all over again. I have no regrets. I’ve had three generations of families,” he said. “I still cut my grass, tend to my garden, and I feel very fortunate to still have my health.”

For more on Maple Glen Barber Shop, you can visit their Facebook page. We will in touch as we learn more about the property’s new ownership.