The Duke Barber Shop reopened its doors for business last month in a new location on the bottom floor of the Bryan Center.
The new shop, serving all Duke community members, officially began business again on Dec. 16. The shop was previously located in the basement of the West Union and moved as a result of construction in the building. Renovations in the Bryan Center space prevented the shop from opening earlier in the Fall semester.
The new location is across from post office mailboxes in the Bryan Center, making it less visible to customers than the old shop. There is clear signage indicating its whereabouts, but shop manager David Fowler has plans for more advertising and a new website to maintain previous levels of business.
The biggest challenge for the business will be getting people to walk in the door given the new more obscure location, Fowler noted.
“People shy away from places they can’t find,” Fowler said. “It’ll just take time.”
Prior to West Union construction, the central location of the shop attracted new customers that were walking by. Eventually, the Barber Shop became more isolated as offices and businesses moved out of the West Union, ultimately leaving it alone in the basement.
Long-time customers are not fazed. Retired history professor Peter English, for example, had his hair cut Wednesday morning.
“Up until today, I always went to the one in the West Union. It took me a while to find [the new location], but once I found it, it wasn’t a problem,” English said.
At the new shop, the number of employees remains the same—four barbers and two hairdressers. The new space is slightly smaller, but still has room for customers to wait and enjoy complimentary coffee. The shop maintains its traditional red, white and blue spirals, reminding customers of a 1950s salon.
The shop has managed to stay in business since 1912—making it over 100 years old. Fowler said the shop was busiest in the 1970s.
“There was one point when I was booked six weeks out,” said Fowler, who has worked at the shop since 1959.
Students returning from winter break have started to use the Barber Shop again in its new incarnation. Junior Nic Meiring is excited that the Barber Shop is back.
“I had to get my hair cut off-campus, and I missed the Barber Shop,” Meiring said.