How long have you been cutting hair?
How did you get into the profession?
“Dumb luck. It just kind of fell on my lap. I was managing a sales company and I wanted to get out. There was a job at a beauty school doing admissions, and I got a discount on tuition if I worked there long enough. I figured it would be something honest to do while I figured out what I wanted to do when I grew up. And one day it became what I wanted to do.”
You’ve worked at barbershops including The Modern Man and Rooks Traditional in Portland, how did those experiences prepare or influence you as a barber?
“The Modern Man was my first legit barbering job. The people there showed me a whole other side to the industry. It turned out that I gave the owner his first haircut when he was in beauty school. He insisted that I start cutting hair.”
There doesn’t seem to be a shortage of salons, but barbershops seem to be fewer and further in between. Why is that?
“The American barbershop started dying in the ‘70s, thanks to The Beatles. It’s almost a proven fact. The Beatles were the first real band with international fame that stopped cutting their hair in defiance. That’s why their hair was so long — they were defying a generation that was crew cuts and flat tops. Well everyone else started doing it too. Even when people had nothing left on top, they were letting it grow long on the sides. The American barbershop died off because long hair killed us. People quit trying to become barbers because the market was dying. Today, barbershops are beginning to come back.”
What is the difference between a conventional barbershop and a salon?
“We don’t do color. We don’t do perms. We don’t do long layers and we don’t do ‘A-line’ hairstyles. With most conventional barbering, everything is off the ears.”
Are there social differences between a barbershop and a salon?
“In barbershops, it’s not like the salon where you go and they kiss your ass and make you feel special. At barbershops you act like a man and get treated like a man. In a barbershop, we can talk about anything you want to talk about … religion, politics, your favorite porn star… doesn’t matter. What happens in the barbershop stays in the barbershop. It’s a place where you shouldn’t have to worry about who you are. I do cut hair for women and kids if it’s off the ears. When kids are in here, everything is PG-13 or below.”
What is ‘off the ears’?
“It’s not long enough to hang over.”
Are there services that a barbershop offers that you won’t find in a salon?
“A straight razor, hot towel shave. There just aren’t a lot of places you can get it.”
How does a straight razor, hot towel shave compare to a traditional shave at home?
“A straight shave is like a spa service for a dude. You lay back, add oil and shaving cream, hot towels — lots of hot towels. You do some shaving, add more hot towels, more stuff on your face. Then you do a cold towel and some skin toner and aftershave. It’s a process that takes about 45 minutes.”
How much does that cost?
It seems both men and women both generally go to chain salons for haircuts. Was there a time when only guys went to barbershops and women to salons?
“Historically the barbershop has been a male meeting place. In barbershops in the 50s and 60s it was like Cheers but without the alcohol.
You also have a barbershop in Raymond; what made you decide to open a location in Seaside?
“We would like to move down here. There were no jobs, so I made one.”
What specifically attracted you to Seaside?
“We had been looking for a second spot since December. We looked from Tacoma to Lincoln City looking for the right place with the right demographics. I was getting ready to sign a lease in Lincoln City and I was told “Barber Bob,” the sole barber in Seaside, was in motorcycle accident. Seaside needed another barbershop.”
How many customers do you have on a typical day at your Raymond location?
“20 to 30.”
And you will continue to run both?
“Yes, I work in Raymond on Wednesday and Thursday and I’m here Friday through Monday.”
What’s been the most popular haircut?
“High fade with a hard part. Everybody get a hard part.”
Have there been any particularly unforgettable requests?
“Just everyone that’s still trying to do the ‘comb over.’ I really struggle with that. You shouldn’t hide your hair loss, it only looks worse. I will do everything I can to talk them out of it.”
Has there been a particular demographic?
“It’s been spread out. I’m getting a lot more tourists than I thought I would.”
Do you have a forte or specialty?
“In Raymond, it would be seniors and ‘flat tops’— all the seniors come running.”
And your wife cuts hair too?
“Yes, she cuts hair Friday and Saturday. We’re probably the only real ‘mom and pop’ barbershop in America.”
Any grooming tips for the guys?
“Wash your beard every couple days and condition it a couple times a week. There are a million advertisements for beard shampoo, but half of them are just repackaging regular shampoo and conditioner. If anything, a couple drops of beard oil after you get out of the shower.”