As the owner of GC’s Great Cuts, the only Black-owned business on the corner of Glenrose Avenue and Altadena Drive, Geoff Cathcart said he has many great memories. For 10 years, he has cut hair and watched his community grow until it all burned to the ground.

“I cut a lot of children in the neighborhood community and watched them grow up from elementary school,” Cathcart said. “Now some of them are off in college. Some are even having kids and I was excited to continue that and making this a place where they’re familiar with the community and learn where they came from.”

Shortly after 3 a.m. on August 13, smoke was spotted by a deputy with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, but by the time firefighters came, it was too late.

“Wow, man, $600 clippers,” Cathcart said after finding his lost clippers. “I just bought these. My tools of the trade.”

Put out in minutes, the fire was contained and the rest of the building was saved.

“Oh man, walking here is just devastating,” Cathcart said. “I’m heartbroken. Loss of words man. Built this with one chair.”

 If losing his business isn’t hard enough, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cathcart was only recently allowed to re-open after being closed for five months.

“It’s been unusual because we just got back to work and with the restrictions, we’ve been having to move outside,” Cathcart said. “Lowered my clientele and base, but the community [has] been trying to be supportive. It’s a big blow not to be able to go back inside and continue what we do.”

Growing up in Altadena, Cathcart wanted to become a barber after realizing the confidence children displayed after a haircut. Now that his barbershop is gone, Cathcart is at a loss for words and doesn't know what his next steps will be, he said. He didn’t carry insurance so a friend started a GoFundMe to help him out.

“It’s not just me. I had another employee, a co-worker,” Cathcart said. “And it affects him. He’s lost everything. It affects him providing for his family as well as me providing for my family."

Under investigation with the Sheriff's Special Enforcement Bureau, it may be weeks before Cathcart finds out what happened.

“It’s really a complete loss not only to us individually but even to the community. It’s a lack of services in a neighborhood that doesn’t have many services for people of color anyway,” Cathcart said.

Barbershops are a place of community where customers hang out long after their cut is done. When Black Lives Matter started trending in 2013, Cathcart remembers the many conversations he had with his customers. Now more than ever, he said he wants to get back to work.

“A man on his first date. Nothing like getting a fresh haircut. He’s coming to see me first,” Cathcart said. “And when he gets done with his date, he’s coming back to tell the whole shop about it. There’s nothing like the unity of the Black barbershop.”