Tag Archives: barber shop

Shave and a Haircut

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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Tonsorial Traditions

September 1, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The best place to start an experience at 18/8, a new men’s salon in Aksarben Village, is, perhaps, with the name itself, a reference to stainless steel—steel plus 18 percent chromium and 8 percent nickel.

“When it was transformed, stainless steel was better—it performed better, it looked better, it worked better,” says Omaha 18/8 owner Michael Wohlgemuth.

“That’s kind of the metaphor we use for 18/8. We want to transform the male to be better—to look better, to be better performing, to get better results in how they feel about themselves.”

It’s a metaphor for 18/8 itself, too, which, since its opening in May, is striving to transform the Omaha man’s professional grooming experience.

“We try to cater to men in a semi-private atmosphere where they get the opportunity to relax and enjoy the experience,” Wohlgemuth says. “Most barber shops and salons line up chairs or cubicles. We turn ours at angles and have walls between stations. In our salon, the highest number of people getting services at one time would be three, and they would be protected—they don’t have 10 or 12 other men staring at them.”

It’s a formula that’s proved popular in other locations. More than 20 18/8 salons have opened or are slated to open in California, Colorado, Georgia, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, and Texas.

Scott Griffith and Ron Love started the franchise in California. Wohlgemuth and his wife, Debbie, decided to bring 18/8 to Omaha (likely soon in more than one location beyond the existing one at 1920 S. 67th St.) because they felt the salon’s approach was a new one for the city.

Men can book services—including haircuts, hair and beard coloring, shaves, facials, manicures, scalp treatments, and waxing—online or via phone. They can walk into the salon, too, though clients with reservations receive priority. In any case, every visitor is greeted first by a DOFI—a Director of First Impressions—who confirms services to be received and leads guests to the first semi-private area of the bright, modern salon: a couple of sleek arm chairs flanked by a mini fridge and mounted flat-screen TV. The DOFI makes a note of clients’ preferred beverages for future visits, Debbie Wohlgemuth says, then escorts men to the back, where they can remove and hang their shirts and put on a robe. A stylist or barber will put on an additional cape when clients get to a chair.

“We don’t want hair anywhere on a man when he leaves,” Michael Wohlgemuth adds. “When he leaves, he can go right out on a date or to a wedding or back to work without having to worry about going home first.”

The salon’s team of stylists and barbers (barbers are able to provide a clean shave with a straight blade) are trained to tailor hairstyles to men’s individual heads, Michael Wohlgemuth says. They won’t simply snap on a guard and cut the hair around it, for example. Every client gets a hot towel upon arrival and a shampoo and conditioning before and after hair services.

“We think the experience is kind of a lost art, and we’re trying to revitalize it,” Michael Wohlgemuth says. “We think we’ve just taken the experience up a notch.”

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Snip-Buzz-Clank

April 6, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The rapid-fire click of scissor snips and the droning hum of electric razors form the soundtrack at most any barber shop. The percussion section of the orchestra over at Goodwin’s Spencer Street Barber Shop adds yet a third instrument to the mix, thus rendering a symphony of “snip-buzz-clank-snip-buzz-clank.”

Owner Dan Goodwin’s bench press and its metal-on-metal clinks and clanks may seem out of place amid the barbering tools marinating in jars of blue disinfectant, but it is just one way that the champion weightlifter keeps up his iron-pumping regimen.

Oh, did we mention that Goodwin is 82 years old?

Taking up the sport at the tender age of 68, Goodwin has since gone on to capture 13 national titles to go along with three world records. He has competed on four continents and is the bench press, squat, and total points world record holder in the 80-and-older age group called Master’s 4.

Goodwin works to encourage good fitness habits among people of all ages. He’s been cutting hair in the same space for more than half a century, meaning that he now has four generations of clients as a captive audience to hear his message of wellness.

“I gave this young man his first haircut,” Goodwin says with a nod to the occupant of chair No. 3. The boy is Damon, a 5th grader at nearby Sacred Heart School. “And I’ll keep on him as he grows to make sure he knows to get plenty of exercise to live a long and healthy life.”

The three-chair barber shop is also steeped in the city’s history of civil rights. It was prominently featured in the 1966 film, A Time for Burning. Nominated for an Academy Award as best documentary, the film chronicled attempts by the pastor of Augustana Lutheran Church to integrate his then all-white congregation. Both Goodwin and one of his employees, a young barber named Ernie, were prominently featured in the documentary. Ernie, of course, is now State Sen. Ernie Chambers, the implacable civil rights advocate and longest-serving member in Nebraska Unicameral history.

“I like being healthy,” Goodwin says. “I like to exercise. It makes me feel young. I don’t think about my age very much and am usually reminded about it most when people say they can’t believe it when they learn how ancient I am.”

Judging by the chiseled figure in the photograph above, it’s an experience Goodwin must encounter about a bazillion times each and every day.

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