Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Barbershop Bigamy

I made a decision the other day--I think. Before I get to all that though, I feel like I need to update you, my loyal readers, on what I've been doing all summer. I'm working at a Sam's Club that was daintily placed on top of a mountain. This Sam's Club, or the Target right next to it, depending on where your chain store loyalties lie, is the centerpiece of a new shopping center about 5 minutes from my house. Early on, during one of my training days at Sam's, I exited the building and walked to my car. On the window was a post-it type sticker that has complicated my life exponentially.

Sport Clips is a chain. Much like Wal-Mart, Target, and countless other chains, it takes business away from local shops. Among small, family run barbershops, I would imagine that Sport Clips is viewed with a special brand of disdain.

My personal barbershop has been with me since 2000. Our meeting is the stuff of lore: On the morning of a family picture, my parents realized that my hair looked like an unkempt meadow, and decided to do something about it. It was a Saturday, and there wasn't a great selection of places to choose from. Like a beacon of light, in a small plaza near my house, was a strip mall. In that strip mall, there was a storefront. Above the door of one section, a few words said everything: Barber Shop.

That was it; the plainest of names for a pretty low-key place. I stepped inside and was surrounded by the hum of clippers and the faint odor of talcum powder. Stuck crudely to mirrors were the names of each barber. Chuck, Nick, Matt, Mike. No Franco's or Rico's here, just meat and potatoes barbers with quick hands, Pittsburgh accents, and a love of the Steelers, Pirates, and Pens. I honestly couldn't tell you who cut my hair that day. I think it was Matt, but I'm not sure. That doesn't really matter though; my parents liked the look, and surprisingly, so did I. For once, I didn't have hair that screamed "Pocket protector wielding nerd".

With the exception of a few trips to a place at Penn State, the Barber Shop was my place for the next 5 and a half years. I got to know all the guys, I knew what I liked, and I knew that there was nothing better than the hot lather straight razor shave at the end of each cut. I had no problem shelling out the 10 dollars it cost for a fresh cut, and I always felt obligated to leave a healthy tip.


All of that changed when I looked closer at that post-it on the driver's side window. I noticed that it was a coupon for an 8.95 cut at the Sport Clips right across the parking lot from Sam's. I stuck it in my wallet and didn't think about it for a few days. Then, after a particularly rough day at work, I decided to give it a try. The decision itself wasn't that hard, because after all, if I didn't like it, I could just forget about them from that point on.

I went in and was immediately greeted warmly by a woman in a baseball jersey. Sport Clips' gimmick, if you didn't guess, is that it is a sports themed barbershop. I was introduced to my stylist, Michelle, and taken back to get started. To make a long story short, they took A+ care of me. I got the MVP cut, which included a massage, hot towel on the face, and everything short of a sexual favor. I walked out of the place refreshed, relaxed, and throughly comfortable.

I was torn.

Here now, I sit...mulling over my options for the next cut. Do I go back to my roots (no pun intended)? Or do I keep with the new kid in town, the one with a lot of pizazz, flash, and dash. It's like choosing between women...maybe. I need your help, readers...I need to know what to do. Is it time to stay true to the place that got me out of a jam? Or is it time for a switch to a heartless, albeit very good, national chain?

I could go on and on about the social undertones to this, but I won't. The bottom line is this: Should I stay or should I go?

As for me, well, I just don't know.

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