The Increasing Value of Old-School Barbershops in Today’s Community

Barbershops have always been that community-driven and small business staple that has brought men together for decades. It was said that if you want to know anything–from current events to politics to sports–the barbershop is the place to get information of all sorts. The reason? Because men and women from all walks of life come together to share their unique experiences, to comment on life’s truths, to laugh, and to help each other grow and succeed.

As an African-American barber myself, I know all too well what the barbershop means to me and for my community. I remember the few times when I went to the barbershop before learning how to cut my own hair at the age of 11: I would just listen at how the old-school barbers talked to the customers, communicated and fraternized, and how valuable it was for young men to listen and absorb what the more mature veterans were saying. The barbershop literally touches everyone–from teachers and accountants to principals, doctors, professional athletes, government officials, truck drivers, lawyers, public servants, small business owners, farmers, etc. You name it, the barbershop services them all! It all goes back to the saying, If you look good you feel good, and that’s the absolute truth.

Things are slightly different in today’s climate, with barbers offering appointment scheduling with online apps that strips away the all-day visits of the olden days. However, going to the barbershop is still is in some existing shops, an all-day event. With the more fast moving, hustle-and-bustle way of life, and the technological/social median-encouraged age and times, the barbershop still has and carries great significance in the community. Before I opened my salon and barbershop 20 yrs ago (and prior to owning my own business), I served my community in North Dallas for a total of over 25 years, helping with free back-to-school haircuts, coordinating help with the homeless, projects with Big Brother and Big Sister, aiding with Katrina victims, free haircuts for young men and boys of single moms, food pantry projects, turkey giveaways for Thanksgiving, helping families with toys/food/gifts for Christmas, volunteering at local churches, and various city and community events, just to name a few. The influence and value that the barbershop has is more significant than anyone can even imagine. It gives young men identity with and that belonging to something that is important and relevant to their growth into manhood. 

It’s an honor for me to have seen that 1-year-old toddler grow to be a man who now teaches his sons what the barbershop means to him and how he can help keep the tradition of community involvement going. Let’s not forget about the little girls who went and still go today with their fathers and brothers to the barbershop, who love the barbershop atmosphere and industry so much they decided to become a professional. There is a increasing number of females becoming barbers, and their emergence is truly making a difference. Women of all backgrounds and color are choosing to go to barber college and then get additional cosmetology education in order to become well-rounded in their skills. Now how genius is that? Going that route allows them to become a dual threat. 

Speaking of community, if you didn’t know or haven’t heard . . . (or you’ve just been living under a rock), the Connecticut Barber Expo is the world’s largest 2-day barber event, hosted by Jason Raposo, aka Jay Majors, and is where you can find well over 10k licensed barbers from all over the world. From the biggest social media influencers, industry leaders, product and tool companies, educators, artists, barbershop and male grooming salon owners and student graduates, this is the event to be at. I’ve had a chance to get to know Jay Majors over the last few years, and he has truly carved out a place in the barber industry for us when it comes to events. Jay is a no nonsense, straight-to-the-point, great guy who has passion and love for our fellow barbers. 

And ShearShare is no different. We tout #CommunityOverCompetition and work to help barbers launch out as individual professionals while helping barbershop owners make money on their empty chairs. The barber industry is definitely growing in popularity today more than ever. Starting off as a professional barber has opened many doors for me–from serving our community for 25 years to now being the tech CEO of the first app that allows barbershops to rent their unused stations to licensed barbers by the day. Its a literal win-win because the barbershop owner makes money on that empty chair, and a licensed barber who needs space on demand to service their clients now has a place to work. I suggest you download the app on either the App Store or Google Play so you can see what freedoms it gives you. 

Today’s barbershops and barbers are resilient. Add to that the fact that today’s male is hyper-focused on his appearance, and you have the perfect storm. One thing is for sure, barbershops will continue to make a difference in communities all over the world for men and their young proteges for decades to come. Also, with lady barbers placing their stake in the barbering industry, young girls also have examples to look to and idolize. Salute to all the old-school, new-school, female and male barbers and future barbers . . . we all make a difference.  

Dr. Tye Caldwell