More Than A Barbershop

Shuffletons_Barbershop Print

By David Michael Newstead.

As I sat down for a haircut before the holidays, I started thinking about this long series of articles I’ve seen year after year focusing on barbershops being more than just barbershops. And once you start noticing that, you begin to realize that quite a few projects and initiatives have really been built around barbershops and their place in our culture. There’s a historical aspect to that, certainly. But also, we’re in a time when people are collectively bemoaning the loss of genuine personal interactions (etc.) and the connections they help us to form. Blame our busy schedules, blame the latest smartphone app or the retail apocalypse or just fill in the blank with your explanation of choice. But while many things have changed in a few short years, the need to get your haircut regularly remains a constant. And that turns a local barbershop into a communal hub in ways that won’t ever be easy to replicate, automate, or outsource. I vividly remember some of my earliest haircuts and the nervousness that came with each visit. Nowadays though, I just sit back and people watch, while I’m waiting for my turn in the chair. And what I see during those times are barbers on a first name basis with regular customers and their kids, a thriving small business in a conglomerated America, and flexible payment arrangements helped along by the fact that the people cutting your hair know you’ll show up again in a couple weeks anyway. For me at least, there’s something reassuring about all that. That we could get some sense of community out of what might only seem like an errand.