If you can’t cut your own hair or you’re looking for a new social scene, we’ll help guide you through the most common questions & concerns when searching for a new barber.
Barbers have been a vital staple of civilization throughout most of the western world. Historically performing roles as surgeons & dentists, in addition to cutting hair. As result, barber shops have become an American staple, Providing many more services than just a great cut. They’re the most accessible men’s club in the country, often facilitating rites of passage for the young and old alike. A boys first haircut, proms, weddings and other cultural events.
The problem for so many is, how to find a good barber shop. Once the search begins, one quickly realizes that there’s far more to this decision than simply finding a skilled barber. It’s a place visited many times through out the year, a watering-hole where ideas and information is shared.
Most people depend on customer reviews for buying decisions, but such tools like yelp don’t provide enough info to make a solid choice in this area, since the service is so personal. Finding a place that hits all the right marks using reviews alone is unreliable. So we’ve compiled a short guide to make the whole process a little easier.
In this post you’ll discover some great tips on how to find a barber shop and benefit from the social aspects of a longtime community establishment.
Quickly you discover, there’s a lot of terrible barbers out there…
Maybe you’ve just moved to a new city, or you’re looking to be more involved in the community. Like revelation the idea hits you! The barbershop! It’s a classic scene to make friends and network with people in the neighborhood.
You might begin by randomly trying different shops in the city. Testing each one, hoping to have an experience like the ones seen in movies. Quickly you discover, there’s a lot of terrible barbers out there…
Thinking there might be a problem with local shops, you decide it’s time to try one of the mega-mall spots. But after they give you a lopsided beard & remove most of your left sideburn, it makes sense to keep looking elsewhere. With each passing barber chair, you continuously walk away irritated, annoyed and worse off than when you walked in. Some places even bump appointments, plus every new trim leaves your hairline a little further back and the beard slightly shorter.
One shop you try is particularly bad. Noticeable piles of hair cling to every corner and edge. Clippers that sound like a screaming child, and your pretty sure you’ve only seen the guy brush the clippers in between cuts. No spray… nothing
Leaving the change from your pockets spinning in place after running out of there so fast, you try another venue. Somewhere with a very nice location & great furniture too! Your surprised to see a barber with an empty chair, all while three people are seated and waiting. You politely ask to go next if no one else wants to, they enthusiastically say yes, and wish you good luck.
As soon as he begins, the barber breaks out the iPhone and starts live streaming the session! Constantly turning off the clippers to speak to his followers, he turns a quick shape-up into a 60 minute ordeal. With only one side of your head completed, he pauses to argue with someone across the room right before “asking” you, “Hey you don’t mind if I run across the street real quick right?”. At the end of the session your cut looks great, but losing most of the afternoon wasn’t.
Two weeks later, you give this scattered approach one last try. The next shop looks pretty popular, so they must be good? Upon arrival your notified to take a seat and someone will signal when it’s your turn. You quickly realize there aren’t any seats because of the giant line of people. Each person that leaves the barbers chair walks out resembling a magazine model. Showing off their precisely lined beards, lifted out of Greek mythology.
It’s no wonder the place is packed with barbers like these. Unfortunately, they don’t take reservations and you’ve got somewhere to be. The choice is now to miss your appointment for a great hair cut, or deal with the three weeks it’ll take to grow back that missing chunk of beard from a less skilled shop!
Now that your serious about this search, the first move is to look for businesses on Google Maps. The majority of businesses have some presence in the Google system, odds are good they show up on the map. Pull up an area of interest and zoom in. Slowly moving around the map looking for barber shops you might want to research further. This method is great for discovering extremely “niche” places you’d have never found otherwise.
On Instagram, try to find the name of any interesting shops found during your Google search. Instagram serves as a portfolio for many skilled cut-men. From here you’ll get a feel for their skill set and the culture of that shop. Using Instagram’s search, try the “places” tab to find people posting about barber shops in your area.
To narrow-down the field, look over some customer reviews from different sites, like Yelp or Google Reviews. Keep in mind that most happy clients don’t often leave reviews, negative feelings motivate people to comment much more. Don’t allow a bad review to bias you entirely, instead consider the common theme between each complaint and try to pinpoint the issue at the heart of the matter.
ASK GOOD QUESTIONS
The key to obtaining all knowledge, is knowing how to ask good questions. Once you select a shop, you’ll want to ask specific questions to learn more about them & their offerings. Up front, ask if they take reservations as that’ll impact the way you interact with them logistically. Next, inquire about their services to determine if they can provide anything you might want. Straight razor & hot towel, modern styles, washing, etc.
Follow up with a question about their payment options. It really sucks to step out of a barbers chair, chat & shake hands, then moments later explain at the register how you didn’t know it was cash-only.
Also, It’s always good to talk with people waiting in line. Find out if there’s any barber you should avoid or wait for. Full blown information gathering prevents the guy with extra-hot breath from fogging up your glasses during the next shape-up.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Look for cleanliness the moment you enter any barbershop. All shops are required to be certified by the state & present relevant info, similar to how restaurants must display their letter rating. A certified shop gives you peace-of-mind knowing they understand the basics and won’t give you tetanus from a rusty blade.
High price doesn’t always mean good work. Some places get by on brand recognition or any number of outside factors other than their services. Don’t pass up a business because it has lower rates.
There’s another type of shop that exists outside of the law, with an American entrepreneurial spirit at its core. These barbershops operate in a manner similar to their 18th century brothers in trade. Seeking no outside assistance or approval, they provide their community with a valued service. Places like these are sometimes located just steps away from a bodega and is where many great barbers begin their careers. They might not offer Apple-pay but, you can play a game of 2K while listening to some of the funniest people you’ve ever heard.
Another factor to consider, is the age of a business. A shop can only survive for 25 years if they’re doing something right. Strike a balance between a barbershops skill, speed, price, presentation and culture. You might find somewhere with a great culture and is fun to be around but slow. It’s an extremely personal combination that only you can identify.
GET OUT THERE
Now you’re able to take part in a true piece of American culture. A community where you can build friendships & memories with strong foundations. You have what’s needed to find a barber shop that checks nearly every box, from having a nice place to a skilled staff.
If only you can get the barber to stop Instagramming every hair cut!
For more beard care tips check out BeardCareGang.com