October 6, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Erik Anderson was new to Omaha and needed a haircut.

A good one.

The guy had a sales job and needed to look sharp. But who to trust with his precious locks—some chain?

“You never know what kind of haircut you’re going to get,” Anderson says. “You could get a great haircut or walk out of there looking like a doofus. I’m not going to go that route.

“I started going to women’s salons. I knew I could trust them.”

That was two years ago. Now, Anderson gets his ’do done at his own place—Scissors & Scotch, which opened in March at 2835 South 170th Plaza.

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As its name suggests, there’s much more to Scissors & Scotch than just a great cut. The new shop offers an upscale grooming experience featuring traditional barbering services (in plush, old-school barber chairs) and modern spa treatments: steamed towels; hot lather neck shaves; scalp, neck, shoulder, and hand massages; paraffin hand dips; facial and skin services; colorings…even nose waxings. There’s a shoe shine station on Thursdays. And full body massages are on the way.

All for dudes.

Oh, yeah, and when customers are done, one of five complimentary hand-crafted whiskey cocktails await them in a private lounge.

“There’s nothing like this right now,” Anderson says. “I would put it up against any place in the country.

“It’s not just a haircut at Scissors & Scotch, it’s an experience. We haven’t had one person come back and say, ‘That was terrible.’ Most guys are like, ‘Wow, that was awesome.’”

Anderson didn’t do it all alone. He’s equal partners with longtime friend Sean Finley, whom he grew up with in Prairie Village, Kansas, and Tanner Wiles, a friend he met at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where Anderson played baseball before earning his degree in 2011.

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Anderson later worked for Federated Insurance, which moved him from Minneapolis to Omaha in April 2013. That’s when he first went looking for a haircut. While researching his options, Anderson saw that men’s grooming had become the fastest growing part of the beauty industry.

“That really intrigued me and I got really excited about it.”

Why not open his own place? Anderson brought that idea to Finley and Wiles one night at a bar in early 2014. Not one of them had any experience in the grooming industry but the trio soon discussed the idea by group text message. Then they met regularly, working on documents and video conferencing via Google Hangouts. Wiles worked in sales at Ambulatory Care in Kansas City; Finley completed his law degree in Columbia, Missouri (he’s now a corporate attorney at Husch Blackwell in Kansas City).

They hammered out the concept of Scissors & Scotch, leveraged whatever assets they possessed at such tender ages (Finley and Wiles are 27, Anderson 26), and got an SBA loan. In August 2014 they signed a lease at Shops of Legacy. This March, they opened with nine employees, not counting themselves.

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Response exceeded expectations. Six weeks after opening, Scissors & Scotch averaged 80 new clients per week and about 30 haircuts a day. More than 60 percent of the customers opted for the $52, “15-year service” (as in the age of fine Scotch). Its membership program—the Scotch-inspired 10-, 15- and 25-year packages with escalating benefits at each level—was expected to generate 100 sales the first year. Scissors & Scotch sold 90 the first month.

“It’s really encouraging,” Anderson says. “Each week we’ve done more haircuts than the previous week since we opened.”

And all of it by word-of-mouth advertising (though Scissors & Scotch recently started advertising on AM 590).

“I’ve had a lot of guys say, ‘This is Omaha, Nebraska, right? This is something I expect to see in a Chicago or a New York or a Dallas.’”

Thanks to Anderson, Omaha it is.

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