You've seen our homes, our restaurant, our antique finds...you know we love 'old'. That said, we can also appreciate the old-fashioned throwbacks, when executed with style. Thus, walking through the door of Ray's Barber Shop, a new addition to our now-bustling Main Street, made us a teeny bit giddy. Delightful detail: we were offered a traditional shoe shine upon entering. The atmosphere and experience are precisely that which you would like to find in a barber shop; historically-rich building [having formerly housed Daynes Music Hall and the Mayflower restaurant], original [beautiful] woodwork, chandeliers, voyaging murals, and barbers that look the part. We asked owner, Ray, a few questions about his business and the man behind it. Read on...good chap.
Give us the good, the bad, and the ugly about being a barber: The 'good' is that barbering is cool. You get to help people look better, hang out with people who become your friends, and have great conversations all day. The 'bad' is that it can be hard to go on vacation when you're a barber, since it's your personal touch that makes them look good. What's your customer to do when you're gone and they need a haircut? Nothing too 'ugly' about the job...but it does require a lot of standing.
Craziest story you've ever been told by someone in your chair: Craziest story...I've heard it all from behind the chair. I don't think there is anything that could surprise me at this point. I think barbers, bartenders and therapists get all the low-down. There is a Barber's Code of Trust, so I won't get into details...but I've heard some crazy things.
We're in love with the vibe and style of the place. How is the community responding? The community is responding really well to our arrival in the downtown area. Most of our business thus far has come from professionals that work in the offices downtown. But the building we're in is such a cool place, and we've been able to compliment the look with a great barber-shop feel. People seem to love it...passers-by are taking photos all the time.
Why Main Street, and where do you see it going? I love the vibe on Main. I like that, at any time of day, people are walking up and down the street. There's a feeling on Main that the city is alive.
Sam Weller's left the block -- anyone you'd like to see come in? It was sad to see Sam Wellers go -- they've been such a staple on Main Street, and you have to respect that they stayed through the ups and downs of the area. That said, I would love to see more small business make a start on Main. Restaurants seem to fare well downtown.
What's different about getting your hair cut at Ray's? Ray's is a place that will remind you of the great barber shop traditions of the past. Here, it's more than just a haircut -- it's about the experience. The focus is on making it as great as we can for our patrons. We consider ourselves tonsorial artists, and we take pride in the perfection of each cut. We want our customers to leave looking and feeling good!
Did you always want to be a barber? I never thought I would make a career out of barbering, let alone own and operate two shops. My grandpa was a barber, my dad is a barber, and I have three brothers that have all become barbers. We all learned the skill thinking that to have a trade would be a great asset in life...but I thought I wanted to be an architect. Life has unexpected twists and turns, though, and I've found the skill of barbering to be a profession that I really enjoy.
Tell us how you feel about Salt Lake? I've lived in Salt Lake City for 11 years, and I've enjoyed it. I think the mountains are an unbelievable treasure, our community is friendly, and our economy seems to be strong in spite of the recession we've faced.
You mentioned being upset that the Salt Lake Community College cut it's cosmetology and barbering program. Why? I'm very disappointed. SLCC has become such a reputable school in the business, and they've built such a great program. They've been a great resource for finding barbers that have been trained in traditional techniques.
My dad's been a barbering instructor at SLCC for 30 years, and he's being laid off with the program cut, so it hits pretty close to home. Any advice you think might be helpful for him to pass on to the last students? These students are lucky to have been trained by barbers like your dad, who have so much experience and knowledge in this field. They should absorb as much as they can while they can.
What's next for you? I'd like to bring the concept of Ray's Barber Shop to other communities, but I don't want to get ahead of myself. I think for now I need to focus on our current shops and get us established in the downtown area.
Bonus question: what's your favorite place to be? Jamaica...I love the tropical, laid-back vibe of that place!
Thanks need to go out to our friend Jesse Walker and his blog NewCityMovement for shinning the light on this gem.
Ray's Barber Shop | 154 S Main Street | 801.359.7297