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An empty chair at the New Tech Barber in the basement of the Student Center on the afternoon of May 4. The New Tech Barber is scheduled to be evicted this Friday because of unpaid rent.
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The New Tech Barber, located in the basement of the Stratton Student Center, is being evicted this Friday after decades of cutting hair at MIT.

The shop received the eviction notice on Thursday, April 23, due to unpaid rent costs. MIT Real Estate gave it a two-week deadline to vacate the space, which passes this Friday.

Paul Parravano, co-director of the Office of Government and Community Relations at MIT, said he could not say much about the eviction but that “MIT has made many efforts to resolve this issue.”

Parravano said that George Fichera, owner of the New Tech Barber, had not yet spoken with him about the notice.

This is not the first time the New Tech Barber has faced the threat of eviction. In December 2008, it received its first eviction notice due to unpaid rent costs. The New Tech Barber was given until New Year’s Day to move out, but, according to Fichera, an unnamed, influential member from the MIT community convinced MIT Real Estate to postpone the eviction and give Fichera another chance.

According to Fichera, the New Tech Barber started losing business when the Student Center was renovated in 1988 and a new hair salon for women, Technicuts, joined his barber shop in the Student Center basement. Technicuts was given a space closer to the stairwell, while New Tech Barber was located down the hallway.

Fichera said he thought that, due to the way the shops were arranged, people often confused the two barbershops with one another, and many customers go to Technicuts because they see it first. “People didn’t even bother to look,” said Fichera. “Once you walk down the stairway — bam, there it is: Technicuts.”

He said his low income was not caused by low service quality.

Joyce Merrick, owner of Technicuts and a hairstylist there, described the relationship between her business and New Tech Barber as touchy. Initially, the written agreement between the two installations was that Technicuts would not give military-style haircuts, while New Tech Barber would not be allowed to use color highlights. According to Merrick, the agreement was short-lived. The shops failed to make a clear distinction between the services that each were offering.

Fichera said that his father worked as a barber on the MIT campus back when the Coop offered the primary hair service for students. According to Fichera, when his father’s barber service first opened, his father cut the hair of former MIT President Paul E. Gray ’54 when he was a student.