- Special Sections
- Public Notices
A shave and haircut for two bits or 25 cents is not likely in 2013, but that was the going rate in the early 1930s and even earlier.
Just because the same service will cost $18 today, doesn’t mean it’s not a good deal.
That’s why John Coleman believes every man should experience a haircut and an old-fashioned straight razor shave, which is the reason he opened Classic Barber Shop in Williamstown in January.
“You haven’t lived until you’ve had a straight razor pressed to your throat. It’s something every man should experience at least once,” Coleman said.
“They really should,” agreed Jimmy Fryman, a customer and friend of Coleman’s.
Coleman recalls when as a young boy he would go to the barber shop with his father.
It is a memory that has become more precious since his father died.
“I lost my dad when I was pretty young and going to the barber shop was something we did together when I was a kid,” Coleman said. “It’s a forgotten trade in a sense. I want to show kids what it used to be like.”
Classic Barber Shop is just that. Nothing fancy, but a place for gentlemen to hang out.
There’s a flat screen TV, usually tuned to a sports channel, flanked by University of Kentucky and Bengals memorabilia.
“I guess the main thing is, don’t bad mouth Kentucky basketball or you might get a bad haircut,” Coleman, said jokingly.
One wall of the shop, which is adjacent to Kentucky Federal Bank, is covered in old photographs from Williamstown.
There are several chairs for enjoying the view on Main Street. He’s planning to fix up a back room so the younger set will also have a place to play and hang out while their dad or grandfather is getting a haircut or shave.
Coleman has been a barber for just over three years.
He worked in Lexington before coming home to Grant County to open his first shop.
“I just wanted people to experience this the way it used to be,” he said.
Most of his customers come in every four to six weeks for a haircut or shave. Some followed him from Lexington and Ghent because he does use a straight razor.
“Back in the day, they came in once a week to get a shave or haircut and to catch up on all the news,” he said.
The art of barbering changed dramatically in the 1960s when young men chose not to shave as part of the free spirit movement and again in the 1980s when cheap, disposable razors were introduced to the mass market.
“It’s a lost art and a lot of barbers have forgotten about it because it’s just not something that’s done anymore, but that’s where I want to make my business different,” Coleman said.
Fryman said he always wanted to have a straight razor shave but couldn’t find anyone to do it for him.
“I love it,” he said. Fryman liked the experience so much that he’s recommended it to several other friends.
“You’re either going to love it or hate it and from the people I’ve told to try it, about a dozen or so, only one of them have said they didn’t like it,” Fryman said.
Coleman’s easy smile and manner put even the smallest customer at ease.
“Are you smiling?” Coleman asked 4-year-old Austin Nicholson. “There’s no smiling in this chair.”
Coleman is a native of Grant County and a graduate of Williamstown High School.
Working closer to home, gives Coleman more time to spend with his wife, Carrie, and 7-year-old son, Lucky.
“I wanted my son to have the kind of experience I did,” he said.
Coleman remembers the first haircut he got and that was from Clyde Oliver, also a Williamstown barber. Coleman later returned to Oliver’s barber shop and completed an apprenticeship there.
“I’ve still got that picture of my first haircut,” he said, smiling.
For those getting their first haircut, Coleman presents the parents with a certificate with a place for their name, the date of the haircut and a spot for a lock of hair.
“I want to take over the traditions of some of our great barbers like Clyde and Tony Poole. I want to follow in their footsteps,” Coleman said.
While starting a business in a unstable economy might scare some, Coleman said his reason was to leave a legacy for the community and his family.
His motto is simple: have a classic barber shop.
“We’re a timeless tradition with a twist,” he said.
He hopes to soon add another barber.
“I can cut anything from a fade to a comb over and if you want a smooth, clean shave, then I’m your guy,” he said.