Trimming, tradition find a place at ‘The Barbers’
Published: Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 01:01
On 9th Street, nestled between Carl’s Jr. and Tan Republic, lies a men’s haircutting place from a different time period.
The Barbers has the typical man cave feel. It is equipped with a traditional hot foam lather, straight edge razors, vacuums and Oregon State University paraphernalia displayed throughout the shop.
“It’s like a Buffalo Wild Wings in here, except we cut hair,” said owner Don Lovell. “We wanted to create a place men felt like they could gravitate towards; we wanted to wake up the suburban life with a traditional barber shop.”
Lovell’s story is as unique as his shop itself. What started out as a job at his uncle’s barber shop in Michigan, caught at a crossroads from a short-lived professional baseball career, flourished into 20 independently-owned barber shops with more than 150 employees performing more than 45,000 haircuts per year.
Lovell began his professional baseball career as most athletes do: in college and with the intent of having a long career.
He played for Portland State and was selected by the Cleveland Indians in the 1985 Major League Baseball Draft.
After playing for a few years in the minor leagues, Lovell eventually played in the major leagues but was forced to retire in 1990 due to season-ending shoulder injuries.
“I returned to the minor leagues, but it just didn’t feel right,” Lovell said. “I didn’t want to end up playing in the minor leagues in my 30s, so I drove up to Michigan and started working in my uncle’s barber shop.”
Lovell described how he struggled to figure out the right path for him after baseball.
“I was so strange and I remember thinking to myself, ‘OK now what am I going to do,’” Lovell said.
Shortly after that, Lovell met his wife, Allison, in a hair salon. The pair went back and forth over which direction they were going to take their careers.
“One day I was sitting in a barber shop in Seattle and it hit me. [Allison and I] could do this. She could cut hair and we could do this,” Lovell said.
The pair wanted to see if it would work. According to Lovell, they were not overly ambitious, but just simply wanted to see if their crazy idea would survive.
“I love this job, hanging out in barber shops all day, meeting and talking to people,” Lovell said. “It doesn’t get any better than this. We hope to create a small, quaint place where the haircutters are paid well and keep coming back, and a place where men can get traditional cuts in a down to earth environment.”
Lovell continued to describe his ties to the OSU community, and how he thinks the shop will be well-received. The couple plans to keep expanding, possibly adding a second shop.
Convenience is key for Corvallis residents, particularly for OSU students without means of travelling back home to their local barber.
“Now that we are here, guys don’t have to wait until Christmas break or spring break to get their haircut,” Lovell said. “We have come to them.”
What started on a whim has now turned into a huge business chain, but The Barbers hasn’t lost the traditional character and old-time feel.
“Corvallis and the OSU Community is a great place to open a place like this and I’m glad we are here and can provide great haircuts to men,” Lovell said.
Callie Simmons, news reporter