Article by Allen Bowcock
The barbershops I have visited over the years were places where I felt welcomed and at ease.
One particular barbershop in Sydney has a very active and high level of energy permeating with a very friendly atmosphere. The owner is of Lebanese descent and his name is Ali, so he now has the name Ali Barber. Ali has a number of young fellows working there on apprenticeships, a couple of these being his sons. On the odd occasion when we travel to Sydney for various reasons, I make it a time to get a haircut. The only place I visit is this barbershop and each time I have been provided with a warm and friendly welcome by all of the members in the shop. It is a small space where there are 5 chairs, and it is rare that any are empty.
My approach with him and any other barber is to acknowledge that they are the artist and I ask them to create something for me, if they are unsure, I again tell them that I am the blank canvas and happy for their creativity to shine. In the years gone by I can only think of about two occasions where I was not happy with the end result.
The setting of the Barbery expresses the feeling of being back in time with some essence of nostalgia, which is very inviting. The workstation and customer area is always clean, after a cut they clean up the trimmed hair immediately, along with the bench spaces.
I do not believe that I am a barbershop snob when it comes to getting my hair cut.
I’ve been to the fancy-pants haircuts from the salon where they massage your head, wash your hair thrice (once before the cut, once after, plus conditioner) and I have even had my fair share of “Supercuts” where my hair was buzzed with a razor in McDonald-esque precision. But I have never had an experience quite like the haircut I have just received from Ali and his team.
This has been the case always and prior to pandemic. Additionally, Ali and his team are very courteous to young children and parents. It is a safe and good place to be in. During the course of the cut there is a friendly chat amongst staff and customers and I particularly like it because he has photographs and posters on his walls of Muhammad Ali and a couple of local football teams, resulting in a bit of friendly banter whilst he is working. I know he loves to go fishing and enjoys being out with his family.
His costs for cuts are also very reasonable and I have never heard any inappropriate language in all of my visits. More importantly, I would get to see him about once or twice a year and with the population of Sydney you would think it would be difficult to remember names, but he has never missed a beat and that is a key reason why I like to go there.
In particular, many of the barbershops and hairdressers in the big shopping complexes do not provide this type of experience and there is a lack of human interface which offers us timeout.
For me, it is a great experience which is not something you come to expect from a barbershop. Additionally, in this fast-paced world there is often pressure to get things done quickly so you don’t miss other activities that need to be done. Having a ‘break’ and relishing in the time to relax and enjoying the moment is something that is rare in many things we do each day. There is a real point of difference and raises a good question.
Are your clients getting a truly unique experience from you?