An Early Visit to a Sevierville Tradition: Sims Barbershop


Someone I know gets a haircut at 4:30 a.m. every two weeks. What kind of place is open that early? I have walked by this Bruce Street business often and have even waved at the gentleman inside as I have walked by to the farmer’s market. I wanted to know a little more about Sims barber shop, a Sevierville institution; however, I don’t think that I have ever set foot in a barbershop. It was a place that I had never visited before so I needed a guide. A navigator. Jayson Nave fit the bill. Follow along as I visit a Sevierville tradition and, in the process,  meet a huge Tennessee Vols fan. This is a Bruce Street favorite. 


I thought that Jayson would be there about 4:45. Here is a shot of the clock on my car showing the early hour. Alas! Jayson was already finished with the cut and waiting for me. 


Bruce Street is practically deserted at 4:48 in the morning…except for the light in Sims Barbershop, to the left. You can park right in front of the door at that time too!


Mr. Johnny Sims was so friendly and cheerful at that early hour. What a wonderful feeling when you enter the shop because you walk into a Sevierville time capsule. There was so much history to see. Mr. Sims graduated from the Tri-City Barber College in 1959, then he opened the shop in February 1960. Mr. Sims’ father opened his shop three doors down over 60 years ago. 


First, I love the barber chairs! So traditional. Mr. Sims bought the barber chairs in 1959. 


Dr. Nave showed me how the barbershop system works. 

1. If you are the only customer then you sit in the left chair and get the cut you want. If there is someone in front of you, then take the chair to the right. More people can wait in the chairs along the wall. 

2. If you are waiting, find some reading material that interests you. 

3. Don’t interrupt the time with the barber and another client. (Sort of like at the beauty shop, or when you work out with a trainer at the gym). 

4. Customers are all walk-ins. I don’t think there is a phone there or an appointment book—and I like that. ‘First come, first serve.’ 


These prices have not changed in a long time. Mr. Sims said that in 1969, a haircut cost 75 cents  and a flattop cut was $1. 

Thursdays and Saturdays are the busiest days in the barbershop. The most popular cuts are:

  • Burr cuts
  • ‘High and tight’ military cuts
  • Regular hair cuts
  • Flat tops

And Johnny Sims can do ‘fades!’  These seem to be quite popular with athletes too. 

I would say that it is a good idea for local congressmen to get a haircut at Sims Barbershop while visiting downtown Sevierville. 


It would make me nervous to cut a congressman’s hair, but not Mr. Sims. He said that he felt no case of nerves cutting hair for political figures or others. Can you imagine?


This is an award winning barber and barbershop. I felt very comfortable there. 


Mr. Sims is a fan of Dolly Parton. In fact, he attended Sevier County High School, like her, although his class was 5 years ahead of Dolly’s class. 

Everyone is sure to love the big screen TV placed strategically in front of the main barber chair. It couldn’t be more comfortable or convenient. 

Mr. Sims is a Vol fan and supports all the teams: Lady Vols, Vol basketball, and, of course, football. 


Mr. Sims is a huge Vols fan, as you can tell by the memorabilia on the walls. In fact, he closes his shop on home game Saturdays two hours before game time, no matter what. 

He has attended Vol home games for over 45 years, with seats in the horseshoe of Neyland Stadium. 


These hours are great for customers. Mr. Sims may be the hardest working barber in East Tennessee! He is closed on Wednesdays and Sundays. 

This is the original barbershop pole that he bought in 1959. It doesn’t work right now, but still is a traditional sign of the service. I wish that someone could go there and fix it for him. How cool would that be? 

I  enjoyed this visit to Sims barbershop and felt so welcomed that I can imagine how customers feel there. In fact, I told Mr. Sims that if I were a guy then I would certainly get my hair cut there too. It was enjoyable to see and hear things about the shop from so many decades. I appreciated Dr. Jayson Nave introducing me to Johnny Sims, proprietor of Sims Barber Shop. Dr. Nave knew what I needed to see and hear about the owner and the shop for this story. And what a good story it is,  because the barbershop has served this town for decades. Clearly, it is a Bruce Street destination. 

I’ll be sure to continue to wave each time that I pass there because Mr. Sims is a Sevierville institution. Make sure that you do the same when you are going down Bruce Street. Mr. Sims will certainly smile and wave back. 

I’m glad that this blog makes me get out and about in Sevierville. 


Downtown at 6:15 in the morning as I headed back home to get ready for the day. 


Not stirring yet, but Courthouse Donuts is beautifully lit up from within. 

One thought on “An Early Visit to a Sevierville Tradition: Sims Barbershop

  1. Billie P C August 28, 2017 / 3:31 pm

    Very neat I have never visited there before!

    Like

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