The Neighborhood Barbershop
In today’s modern society the intrinsic value of business is often diminished by the pursuit of only growth, expansion and profits.
There are however businesses which resist this trend.
One such entity is the local barber shop.
This place is one of unusual client loyalty and surprising customer service!
A place yet defined by one on one interaction between customer demand and skillful vendor supply.
There is the single mom who walks in makes eye contact with her barber and hastily gives instructions on how to “shape up” her two young son’s hair.
She tells him, " I’ll pick them up in a couple of hours." After commanding them to sit down and be good until they are called for their haircuts she dashes out the door.
Then there is the older distinguished gentleman who comes in with a paper tucked under one arm and a coffee in the other hand.
After siting for a while he makes a comment during a moment of silence, about a particular provoking headline.
Just like that the shop comes alive with a buzz of conversation and robust dialogue about the news of the day.
The door swings open and a twenty something strolls in with earplugs connected. He barely notices anyone except his barber, who he gives a quick affirmative head nod.
After making himself comfortable in the row of seats facing the barber chairs he settles in for his wait while enjoying his recently downloaded ITunes beats.
Take Your Time
Upon entering you notice a deliberately unhurried pace and tempo that defies the typical place of business.
When it’s time for my own haircut I usually bring something to read or even my laptop, since this old school barbershop has wireless internet access!
Although I call to give my barber, Fred, the estimated time of arrival, it’s more of a courtesy than an “appointment”.
The reality is because he takes his time with his other unreasonably loyal customers and is often running over the time we expect to meet. Apparently I don’t mind as I’m still coming after six years.
When his guy for 3pm shows up and I don’t get that last brush off of hair and removal of the cape from around my shoulders until 3:25, well the same thing applies.
A Special Ambiance
Despite the above-mentioned customers and many others in between ranging from different backgrounds, social status, and ethnic makeups there is an amazing intangible at the barber shop.
I would describe it as a unique and down to earth ambiance not centered on pristine décor or expensive trappings.
Rather, a genuine atmosphere of camaraderie amongst its customers and business owners where a dynamic takes place above and beyond a mere haircut.
Inside its boundaries resides a level of interaction that can rarely be found elsewhere.
There is a frank openness of discussion around sports, celebrities and other topics including such things as politics and religion which typically are taboo in most commercial establishments.
The barber shop has soul. It has a vibe. It feels good.
Even when the “discussions” sometime get a bit loud and contentious there is always a settling down to a cognizance of respectful toward everyone.
The participants of that particular exchange wisely decide to wait and watch to see if the Dolphins get blown out by the Patriots on the season opener.
It’s kind of like talk radio at the family dinner table.
While all the above may be true.
I’ve often come inside the shop to find only the low volume of ESP Sports Center playing in the background on one of the three flat screens.
The atmosphere is charged with barely audible private conversations between barber and client as services are being rendered.
Again in today’s hustle bustle world I am grateful for the bi-monthly visit to my local barbershop.
I really enjoy the fact that unlike my former favorite bookstore Borders (see Borders -The Final Curtain Call ) the experience can't be outsourced or mass produced through the internet.
Despite the slow moving economy it remains a personal essential service that is reasonably priced and a strong pillar of free enterprise in our community.
May it remain so for many years to come!
Less this entire conversation be deemed as only for men I would dare say that some of you ladies out there might relate with certain aspects as it pertains to your local hair salon or nail shop.
Thanks for listening to my salute of my local barber shop :-)