The Return of the Barbershop

→ It’s pretty amazing it took this long. Barbershops, the one-time go-to for every gent in town, whether he be a banker or a police officer, seemed to die a quick death ending in the 70′s. In the beginning of the 20th century men would pay a visit to their barber once a week, now you’re lucky if you can even find one in your town.

And we, the everyday joes, have been stuck in the middle ever since. You have two options: Go to an over-saturated “family” affair like Fantastic Sams and come out looking like you’ve got a $12 haircut (because you do) or go to a salon, a place that specializes in services for women like coloring and styling with shampoo brands that cost $50, and a men’s haircut costing just as much.

Until now. In the last decade there has been a resurgence in the barbershop experience. They come by many names, The Grooming Lounge in the DC area, Rudy’s Barbershop on the West Coast, and my current go-to Floyd’s 99 Barbershop. These places focus on the amenities that have been all but lost on today’s current crop of haircutteries. Get a great haircut at a good price, and get a classic wetshave while you’re at it. At Floyd’s they finish a haircut off with a vibrating shoulder massage, just like the old-time barbershops. Family shops and salons don’t stand a chance.

I loved my visits to The Grooming Lounge when I was in school. I was greeted with a chic waiting room with every men’s magazine imaginable, and asked if I’d like something to drink while I waited. Fantastic who?

Floyd’s for example is all rock and roll. The walls are plastered with album art from the likes of Nirvana and Led Zepplin, and some, like the store I visit in LA, regularly feature live DJs. But don’t let this fool you, they give great haircuts too. On my last visit, a hip, young barber named Carlos with letters tattooed across his fingers, gave me one of the best haircuts of my life and it only cost me $26.

I was curious how they get talented barbers at Midwest mall prices, so I checked in with Floyd’s co-founder Rob O’Brien. “Our big secret is culture. It’s how we attract and keep outstanding talent … We don’t make them cover up their tattoos and have a pretty liberal dress code, which goes something like this: Don’t wear anything you wouldn’t want to have your picture taken in. Unlike the people who work at discount hair salons, the people who work at Floyd’s don’t think of cutting hair as just a vocation. They think of it as an art form. It’s their passion.”

The folks who have cut my hair at these post-modern barbershops know their craft. They know how to give excellent cuts with scissors and razor blades. They know when to use clippers — and more importantly when not to.

If you’re unsatisfied with the quality of your current haircut, or feel completely emasculated (and broke) by your go-to place, do your hair a favor and check out a 21st Century barbershop.


Did you know?
Barber poles have been in use since the middle ages.

Recommended reading:
Why Every Man Should Go To A Barbershop” on Art of Manliness

How to Get a Great Haircut” on Dappered

How to Get the Haircut You Want, Not the One You Asked For” on Primer

A Sensible Man’s Complete Guide to Losing His Hair” on Primer

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Andrew is the founder and editor of Primer. He's a graduate of American University and currently lives in Los Angeles. Read more about Primer on our About page. On Instagram: @andrewsnavely and @primermagazine.


  • Reply October 5, 2011


    Bellaire Barbershop in Houston…can’t beat a haircut from Matt. $15 includes a straight razor shave for your sideburns and a vibrating shoulder massage.

  • Reply October 5, 2011


    Anyone know a good barbershop like this in Manhattan? Just moved here and trying to figure out where I want to get my hair cut.

  • Reply October 5, 2011


    The only problem I’ve run into with a barber shop is that the guy running it (this is in an old college town in Colorado, and the guy has been cutting hair his whole life) doesn’t know the current trends. I tend to not part my hair from front to back (mainly to cover my balding a little), but rather push it forward. He gave me a great haircut, but with a side part which I didn’t like. Other barbers in the area are GREAT though. I’m lucky enough to have three classic barber shops that I can think of off the top of my head, and a few that are more of the modern iteration of the classics.

  • Reply October 5, 2011

    Sailor Ed

    For anyone in the Hampton Roads area, Jake’s Place in Norfolk is as good as they come in the area. Before receiving your haircut you have the opportunity to enjoy a complementary beer(s) or glass of wine. Of course, the haircut itself is pretty good and you get the always pleasant hot shave around the edges.

    I’m transferring to the San Diego area this winter, does anyone know a good place over there? Thanks!

  • Reply October 6, 2011


    Love this. I’ve got a barber in Chicago I’ve been going to for a while now. It’s great.

  • Reply October 6, 2011


    When I was in Austin for ACL, I swung by Avenue Barber Shop on South Congress. From the decor to the cuts and the straightblade, this was a proper barber shop experience.

  • Reply May 20, 2012


    Hey Andrew, I was in desperate need of a cut, and Floyd’s sounded like my kind of barbershop. However, I didn’t expect there to be one in my area (Boston). Low and behold! There’s one not far from my house. I headed over there, got an excellent cut, and found my new favorite shop. Thanks for the article!

  • Reply May 29, 2012


    There is also a Floyd’s in Venice Beach, CA on Lincoln Blvd..

  • Reply May 31, 2012


    what worries me the most with this stuff is the cavalier attitude toward prices. The writer says “only $26” what a deal. Is he joking? I need 2 cuts a month so with tips that would be turn into $50 a month for haircuts, which is a lot unless you are either 1) wealthy or 2) foolish with your money. I expect the same people that spend like this also blow $100/month on an iPhone, $80-100/month on cable, get starbucks coffee daily and eat lunch out. Then they get to retirement age and bitch they don’t have the funds to retire, lol. crazy.

  • Reply October 21, 2013


    Mind sharing? Thanks!

  • Reply September 3, 2014


    Anyone know a good barbershop in Northern VA? I work in Arlington but don’t really have time to get a haircut during the week, and I live about an hour south, by Fredericksburg. I see Floyds has a shop in Fairfax but that’s too far, and I see one is coming to Alexandria soon.

  • Reply April 6, 2015


    Or just grow your hair long, and spend 5 minutes cutting off a couple inches whenever. It is a lot simpler and less maintenance, and cheaper, plus it is warmer in the winter.
    I had to have a short haircut in the Army, and hated it. It was impractical and high maintenance, and looked like crap with my facial structure.

  • Reply May 7, 2015


    I have been anticipating this for so long, my favorite place to get my mens grooming products just announced they’re opening a barber shop in a few months… .. everyone needs a great barber

  • Reply July 29, 2019

    Thomas Jameson

    It’s good to know that in the last decade there’s been a resurgence in barbershops. My wife has been telling me that I need a new haircut, but I don’t know where to go to get one. I’ll be sure to look further into my options for visiting a barbershop in the future.

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