Muskegon Heights barber hosting community event years after getting clippers for Christmas –

Muskegon Heights barbershop marks 20 years with free community event
MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, MI – JT Thomas was 12 years old when he received his first pair of clippers for Christmas. And he’s been cutting hair ever since.
Thomas, the owner of JT’s Starting Lineup Barbershop in Muskegon Heights, is hosting a free community event on Saturday, Aug. 28 to mark two decades in business.
“They’ll help me celebrate 20 years, and I’ll give my thanks and gratitude back to the people,” he said.
JT’s Starting Lineup opened on Jan. 1, 2001. Over the years, Thomas has watched a generation grow up, persisted through difficult times and given countless haircuts.
“That was about five presidents ago, three mayors ago, terrorist attacks, wars, recessions, a depression and a pandemic,” he said.
As the grandson and great-grandson of barbers, Thomas says cutting hair is in his blood.
Thomas first tried his hand at being a barber 33 years ago on Christmas Day when he picked up his new clippers and botched his brother’s haircut.
“I had to pay $2.35 for him to go to Mr. White’s and get it fixed. And I told my mom, ‘I’m never going to have to do that again,’” he said. “I haven’t messed up like that since then. I got progressively better over the last 33 years.”
A lifetime Muskegon Heights resident, Thomas says barber shops have come and gone but the community has kept JT’s Starting Lineup relevant.
Sequoia Watkins, a longtime customer, has returned to the shop for over a decade because of Thomas’ customer service and great work, she says.
“He’s definitely a pillar in the community,” she said.
Thomas says it’s been a “real joy” running a barbershop for the past 20 years, and the event allows him to thank the community for its support.
“I just want to give back,” he said.
From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., the community can enjoy free hot dogs, cotton candy, snow cones, bounce houses and train rides at 159 W. Broadway Ave. Thomas will also be giving away free haircut cards, backpacks and school supplies.
Muskegon Community College, the Boys & Girls Club of the Muskegon Lakeshore and local law enforcement are also expected to be at the event.
“The community is starting to come together again. In 20 years, I’ve seen it go up and down and it seems like we’re back on another upswing,” Thomas said.
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