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 Snavely

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.