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Wednesday, 17 May 2006
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The Barbershop Is In Vogue Again
The barbershop is on the comeback!

For decades, barbershops were a safe, dependable and consistently profitable business. "You didn't have to worry about the plant closing, you didn't have to worry about a bad crop," says Charles Kirkpatrick, executive officer of the National Association of Barber Boards of America (NABBA) and also a practicing barber in Little Rock, Ark., since 1958. "The barber was, and still is, the most independent business in town." It was also a part of the American cultural fabric, serving as the unofficial Elks club, where men could gather while they waited for a shave and a cut and discuss the all-important issues of the day, such as who should be playing third base for the Cubs and whether a Mustang or a Corvette was the sweeter ride. In 1960, there 350,000 licensed barbers in the U.S., according the NABBA. Then the Beatles came along and ruined everything.

Apparently now there is a resurgence in demand for the barbershop. One thing that the article doesn't mention however (not surprisingly) is that barbershops also declined because many states (like Wisconsin) require barbers to go to cosmetology school in order to get a license now. My barber mentioned this to me one time. He was basically grandfathered in to the system, and that this was why there were so few traditional barbers out there.

Here is the syllabus for a qualifying cosmetology school, as set by statute in Wisconsin. It amounts to 1800 hours of instruction. The majority of the items to be taught are things you would go to a "stylist" for, while probably less than 1/3 is spent on traditional barber skills that a barbershop owner would need.

The Beatles didn't kill the traditional barbershop, the state (and probably cosmetology lobbying organizations) did. Via Instapundit.
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