Welcome to the Man Cave!
Something old, something new. No, we’re not talking bridal attire; we’re actually referring to a noticeable trend in men’s hair care. Specifically, the upsurge in hair destinations targeted to guys—which combine modern styles and services with quirky retro touches and a classic barbershop vibe. These “man caves” cater to men with clubby environments that transform “a little off the sides” into a full-blown, manly experience, complete with toys, music, art, sports and refreshments!
ART + SCIENCE SALON: THE BARBER SHOP
Photo courtesy of David Raccuglia
Art + Science’s three locations are in some of the Chicago area’s most vibrant neighborhoods, and because one of the owners is American Crew Founder David Raccuglia, men’s services of the highest order are readily available. However, says Co-Owner and Chief Creative Officer Paul Wilson, the team recently recognized the need to offer high-end men’s cuts at a lower price point. “Some men simply don’t see the value in a high-price haircut,” he admits. So these clients can now visit The Barber Shop at Art + Science’s Wicker Park location, where barbering services are about $10 less than those in the $45 to $55 range in the core locations. “The Barber Shop fuses classic barbering with the more technically developed styles of today,” Paul notes. “From extreme classics to the most modern, envelope-pushing styles, our barbers have honed skills to create the perfect look for every man.”
Within months of opening, The Barber Shop has become an instant profit center—so much so, that the team plans to open two more Barber Shop adjuncts, along with a free-standing operation in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. In addition to servicing a new group of male clients with deluxe “experiences” that include a lather, hot towel and neck trim with every haircut, the Barber Shop also offers new opportunities for Art + Science’s younger team members—the “bench team” gets great skills training and client experience in the new facility.
There are also clever pricing options to make things simple for guys (who typically appreciate simplicity). New clients can purchase the Three Pack—three haircuts for the price of two after the initial service. And there’s a Barber Shop membership option—$500 for a year of unlimited services, up to 12 visits, plus 15 percent off all retail products and $5 off all shave services.
The Birds Barbershop shows off its trendy, eclectic furnishings
The shops have colorful, open floor plans.
When old buddies Jayson Rapaport and Michael Portman moved to Austin six years ago—Jayson from his gig as a Wall Street trader in New York and Michael from a marketing job at Disney in L.A.—they were hard-pressed to find a place to get an affordable, cool haircut. So they opened Birds Barbershop—a “21st century spin on the traditional barbershop.” Today, there are six locations in Austin, and a seventh in the works.
Each location offers a laid-back, hip experience, complete with beer, DJs and old-school video games like Pacman. Although there is a unifying décor theme of manly chrome and black, local artists’ works are displayed in each location, which also sport elements that capture the
vibe of their neighborhoods.
Cuts are affordable—they start at $21, and women’s cuts and color start at $44 and $50 respectively. And yes, women are more than welcome. While the business is currently 75 percent men, Michael and Jayson are eager to bring in more female customers. “Women are the gatekeepers,” Michael explains. “I always want them on my side. It means a lot to me to hear a woman tell me she sent her husband, boyfriend and son. Plus, it’s validating for a guy to see a girl in the chair next to them. And, of course, women’s tickets are higher.”
Like classic barbershops, Birds doesn’t take appointments. Instead staffers’ work schedules are posted online and clients can log on to see who’s in. They can also call and get on a list, or ask for advice on the best time to come in if they want a particular stylist. “It’s crazy, but it works,” says Michael. “Pre-booking two months out isn’t for everyone. With this system, nobody gets ‘locked out’ because their stylist is too busy.”
Turnover is low at Birds, probably because of the stress-free management style. Everyone is on commission with a minimum earning potential. There are no training or wardrobe requirements and business details are handled by management. “We view it as a partnership,” explains Michael. “We take care of filing the taxes, figuring the tips, the front desk, the marketing, getting butts in the chairs. All our stylists have to do is focus on providing amazing service.”
From floor to ceiling, Sport Clips are all about the love of the game!
This recognizable salon group was the first to create a fun, sporty destination for guys, and itsgrowth has been unprecedented. According to Gordon Logan, Sport Clips Founder and CEO, Sport Clips continues to open 150 to 200 stores each year. With the slogan “It’s Good to Be a Guy,” the red and black storefronts and sports-inspired uniforms worn by stylists make the brand unique and quickly identifiable.
“While we welcome all clients to Sport Clips, we specialize in hair care for men and boys,” explains Julie Vargas, Sport Clips Senior Director of Career Opportunities. “When we decided to target males, sports were a natural vehicle to cut through the marketing clutter and to create an atmosphere where men and boys feel right at home.”
From the baseball field murals covering the walls to the black “lockers” for holding supplies to the tiled “showers” on doors to the restrooms, every inch of Sport Clips embodies the sports theme. Additionally, many new store designs feature “sport court” flooring to make standing all day much easier on stylists’ legs, feet and backs—it looks great, and it’s healthy for employees!
Consistency and affordability are key to Sport Clips’ success. Depending on location, a “Varsity Haircut” ranges from $16 to $20, and an “MVP Experience” ranges from $20 to $26. The signature MVP Experience includes a haircut, hot, steamed towel treatment, massaging shampoo and neck and shoulder massage.
“We are constantly looking for ways to enhance the client and the stylist experience,” says Logan. “To that end, we will soon launch enhanced mobile device features for our clients to sign in remotely, making it easier for our stylists to focus on their clients’ haircuts. Sport Clips is committed to continual improvement!”