The student news site of Puyallup High School

The Viking Vanguard

The student news site of Puyallup High School

The Viking Vanguard

The student news site of Puyallup High School

The Viking Vanguard

Puyallup Staple Serves Up Haircuts, Nostalgia

Credit: Ken Cockle
A look inside the windows of Valley Barber.

Valley Barber Shop is a local business that has been open for over 50 years and has been a staple of downtown Puyallup for generations.

The current location on East Main opened in 1968 after Ken Cockle Sr. bought the business from Al Peterson and promptly moved across the street.

Currently, the spot is owned by Ken Cockle Jr., who has worked at the shop for 22 years.

“The spot was empty. It had been a laundromat with washers and dryers in here. My dad moved in, and it’s been here ever since,” Ken Cockle said.

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Beforehand, had worked at a wholesale produce company owned by his family.

“My father-in-law sold that company and I was the last family member up there, thinking ‘Why am I still here?’… I went to barber school at Bates in Tacoma and made the switch,” Ken Cockle said. “I started right before my 40th birthday in here with my dad. Glad I did.”

Due to the 55-year history behind the business, it makes sense that it has become a key piece of downtown Puyallup.

“It partly is the history and the longevity, and [people] have been coming in [who] were young guys when they were in the 60s and now they’re old guys. That’s a big part of it,” Ken Cockle said.

The shop has operated for over 50 years.

Alex Cockle, Ken’s nephew, also works at the shop regularly. Because the business has been a part of the family for such a long time, they’ve made connections with the local Puyallup community.

“My grandfather, Ken’s dad, was an extremely active member of the community… So they went out, they shook hands and said, ‘Hey, you know, come sit down in my shop…’ whether they worked in city politics, or they worked as doctors in the hospital or bookkeepers, whoever,” Alex Cockle said.

The shop has a very welcoming presence, and customers who get haircuts regularly will find that the employees remember both their haircuts and details about themselves, such as hobbies or family members.

“[Customers] would grow up and have families of their own and the kids come in here, now we’re cutting their grandkids hair. That’s kind of cool,” Alex Cockle said.

That familiarity with the regular and new customers sets Valley Barber apart from any of the big haircut chains.

“Nobody’s just a number. I interviewed up at Sport Clips on the hill before I came into my family [business] and the place is completely sterile… [Valley Barber] is familiar,” Alex Cockle said. “It’s something that people, they go ‘Oh, I’ve seen that old guy behind the chair my whole life.’ There’s a lot of rotating and revolving doors in other shops, this place is really consistent.”

Valley Barber offers a classic and nostalgic barbershop experience.

The shop has become a key feature of downtown Puyallup over the years. Despite the many changes to the surrounding area, the shop has remained relatively untouched.

“When the trees change in autumn, it’s a wonderful scene through the panoramic windows. Everything’s so close by, you got history with the Meeker Mansion. So it’s very historical, it’s just a rich farming community… It’s maintained a lot of its original integrity, and it’s very cute and charming,” Alex Cockle said.


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About the Contributor
Ethan Barker, ACE Editor
Ethan Barker is the ACE (Arts, Culture and Entertainment) Editor for the Viking Vanguard student newspaper at Puyallup High School. This year, which will be his second with the Vanguard and his junior year of high school, he hopes to improve his interviewing skills and work with the editorial team to investigate issues facing students. He consistently turns out reviews of blockbuster movies and shows, along with feature stories that focus on unique people and places. In addition to these, he enjoys playing guitar, swimming for PHS and his club team and reading the closest book he can get his hands on.

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