By Thomas Sellers Jr.
With a few notable changes, the atmosphere at Frenchy’s Barbershop is still the same.
The late founder Clarence Joseph “Frenchy” Levesque created a welcoming, family environment more than 50 years ago in Millington. That came to a temporary stop in late March when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the global scene. Current owner and Frenchy’s daughter Yvonne Levesque-McAlphin literally had to close shop.
“It was rainy and gloomy,” she acknowledged. “You didn’t know what was going to be next. You didn’t know if you were going to be closed or not. It was a scary time for business owners.”
For six weeks Levesque-McAlphin and other salon/barbershop owners had to be patient and wait for the Tennessee government and CDC to lift regulations in order to reopen their types of business.
On May 18, Phase Two began across the state allowing hair and nail salons to operate along with spas. The next phase allows groups of up to 50, libraries, churches, gyms to 50 percent capacity and contact sport facilities can open as long as they only allow a certain number of people.
Those in Levesque-McAlphin shoes had to make adjustments and meet new standards of operation in Phase 2.
“Trying to buy and get the supplies we needed that they mandated,” she noted was the toughest task. “It was hard to find. We have to use paper capes instead of the regular capes. We have disposable ones now. A lot of things we couldn’t find. Then if you did find it, it was unavailable until June. Fortunately, I had supplies.
“For us sanitation has always been a big part,” she continued. “We must have been doing something right all this time because we don’t get sick often.”
The familiar Frenchy’s sign attached to the old brick wall located at 5114 Navy Road moved to 5149 Easley Street around Easter of 2018.
For more than 50 year, Clarence Joseph “Frenchy” Levesque created a part of the Millington business fabric starting at the 5122 Navy Road location.
Now his daughter Yvonne has taken the torch in the form of clippers and shears providing the same traditional friendly customer services to many in Millington and the surrounding areas.
In 1962 Frenchy purchased Laxton’s Barber Shop next door to the Discount Center. The farm owner from Drummonds, married to Mary, was then ready to embark on his business.
The Marine was discharged after three years and was ready to settle down. Frenchy had two options once he left the services to either go into welding or head into barbering school.
Levesque was the father of four children, Allan, Lisa, John and Yvonne. The man from Madawaska, Maine had a vision for his new shop and providing for his family. That vision grew and it became a way for Frenchy to provide for his new hometown.
The Levesque family has made many friends through the barbershop over the years.
They’re definitely happy we’re back,” Yvonne said. “They were getting hairy. But they definitely were concerned because they don’t want us to get sick. They don’t want to get sick. It’s just trying to get back to some type of normal life again.”
For now in order to get a trim at Frenchy’s, it’s by appointment only. To get a chair at the 5149 Easley Street location, call 872-1165.
“We’re here bright and sunny,” Levesque-McAlphin concluded. “Still the same old us but with a new twist I guess.”