It felt like a chunk of a small-town main street supplanted into the whitewashed bottom floor of the Bryan Center, complete with a barber's pole and the jazzy bump of '60s and '70s music in the background.

When the Duke Barbershop shut its doors at the end of May, it was unclear what would fill the shop's Bryan Center space. Duke Stores confirmed this week that the area will now be used as office space for the its operations.

"The location will be used for much needed office space for Duke Stores staff who manage customer service, purchasing and other important functions for our major retail operations," wrote Jim Wilkerson, director of trademark licensing and stores operations for Duke Stores, in an email this week.

The Barbershop had not always been buried in the Bryan Center's "garden level," down the steps from McDonald's and tucked away past the mail center counter. 

It moved to the location in 2013 and was previously located across from the "dope shop" in then-West Union before it closed in 1982. The tradition of barbers at Duke stretches back more than one hundred years, to when then-Trinity College first employed two barbers in 1912.

The tradition came to an end May 31, when store manager David Fowler retired after 55 years on the job, and Duke Stores announced it would close the shop.

“I’m not retiring. I’m going home to work, that’s for sure,” Fowler said at the time. “I’m married, you know I’ve got to work. I’ve got a ‘honey do list’ already.” 

Wilkerson noted Fowler's longtime involvement with the shop.

"We all came to know and love Dave Fowler over the decades he was here, and we’re happy to know he is enjoying his retirement and doing well," he wrote. "We wish him and his family the very best, as well as the others who worked in the barbershop."

The University Store, Gothic Bookshop, Duke Technology Center and textbook store are already based out of the Bryan Center, and the Stores' administrative offices are located on the bottom floor near the barbershop's vacated location.

Transitioning the shop's most recent home into office space offers a functional advantage to the Stores, Wilkerson explained.

"Having these functions onsite in the Bryan Center will allow us to improve service to customers, efficiency, and oversight of these major operations," Wilkerson wrote.