Of all the small businesses hurt by Covid 19, few have suffered more than barbershops. Yes, people are out-and-about more, but not nearly as much as before. The question now is: How can barbershops recoup losses and move forward? The answer? To reinvent themselves. And I think know how.
The idea, as usual, came to me while watching the fire-log channel. It seemed hair-brained at first, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense.
I couldn’t wait to pitch my idea to Gwen, the spirited young girl who regularly cuts my hair. (She also helps with my combover, but that’s our little secret.)
So the next day, I paid her a visit. All four chairs in the shop were empty, and Gwen’s two co-workers were trying to look busy. One was leisurely whistling while sweeping the floor, and the other was watching European soccer on TV. Gwen was playing with her smartphone.
“I’m not here for a haircut,” I yelled as I barged through the door. Then I caught my breath. “Look, I know business is down and things have been tough since Covid, but I think I can help. Just hear me out! And please don’t think I’m crazy.”
I paused. This took nerve. “What about cutting pubic hair?”
“Never on the first date,” Gwen answered.
Very funny, smart-ass.
“Look, I’m serious. Think about it. Women get trimmed down there all the time.”
“Sure,” said Gwen, “but not at the bloody beauty salon. We do our gardening at home. Oh, and do you really expect us to take our clients into little side rooms, because that’s what we’d have to do! What about the children who come here?”
“Future customers,” I said. “And forget about side rooms: just do it under those small aprons you put on us the second we get in the chair.”
“You’re crazy,” she said. “And by the way, your combover’s awful. Come here!”
“Forget my combover! Stop trying to change the subject.”
My frustration was mounting. Plus, now I had a headache because the other barber kept screaming every time Italy got the ball.
“Look,” I said, “I know you think my idea’s radical, but it isn’t. Think about the origins of your profession. At one time, barbers also pulled teeth because they were the only ones with tools. And, let’s face it: barbers do a lot more than just haircuts. You give shaves. You snip nose hair. You thin out eyebrows. One guy even removed a much-loved brown birthmark on my forehead — and then asked me for my Medicare card. This would just be a natural progression.”
“Wrong,” snapped Gwen. “A natural next step would be the underarms.” Then a sly smile.
“Mind taking off your shirt?”
“Not at all.”
“Get up here … but keep your pants on.”
“You mean I wore my Speedo for nothing?”