The black and white checkered floor, barber pole, and old-fashioned type on the front window make you feel like you just stepped into Floyd’s barber shop from The Andy Griffith Show. And the people working here at Dale City’s Barber Shop & Co. care just as much about their customers as one would expect from long-ago Mayberry.
The tagline for the company is “A ‘Real’ Man’s Place” and there is certainly nothing salon or spa-ish about this place. Photos of various local sports teams that the shop supports hang on the wall, as well as a conspicuous juxtaposition of an NFL Washington Redskins poster and a Dallas Cowboy poster. A giant oar from the Woodbridge High School’s crew team hangs over the mirrors, a gift from the team as thanks for the shop’s support.
“This place gets really busy around football season,” said manager Pamela Thomas, the Cowboy fan in the shop. “The T.V. is usually on the news during the week, but weekends it goes to sports. It’s a lot of fun.” She said customers come in specifically to watch games there with their other barber shop buddies, while getting a haircut at the same time. They cheer for their teams and talk about their bets, and sometimes place friendly bets with the staff.
“If there’s one great thing about working here, it’s the community,” Thomas said. “We have an awesome, awesome customer base.” Thomas said some of their customers have been with them since the shop opened in 1988, the first in what was to become The Barber Shop and Co., with shops littered across Virginia and Maryland. One such customer, who stayed with them since their original opening, just died last week, Thomas said.
“We are cutting children’s children’s hair now,” Thomas said. She said dads come in with their boys and point out their picture in a sports photo on the wall, along with “I can’t believe I was so young.” When people move away, they come back to the shop for a cut on visits. College students wait to have their hair cut until school breaks so they can come back to the shop. The shop has about 1,000 regular customers per month, not including new ones.
As men came and went, Thomas would call out a “have a good day” or “good to see you,” addressing them by name like old friends. “If something happens to one of our customers, we have had family members or friends come in to tell us because they know we care,” she said.
Thomas is the only original employee still with the shop, although Al, a popular cutter to judge by the line of men waiting for him specifically to do their cuts, came in 1990. The other two cutters are newbies by comparison, only being there eight and four years.
When the Dale City shop was opened, it was one of the only such barber shops in the area. Within four months of opening it was already turning a profit, which is unheard of in the barber industry, Thomas said. But competition has crept up since then. The price of haircuts at the shop has only increased $3.50 from when it first opened, competition outweighing inflation.
Thomas is proud of her clipper work. “I don’t rely on guards,” Thomas said. “It gives the hair a more finished look.” But, she said, they have to keep on top of trends as they change. “More men want the longer, fuller, styled look again,” she said. She laughed, “I hate to say this, but I’ve had my license for a long time—and I remember the hair of the 70s.” She said a lot of barber shops died in that era because they couldn’t, or wouldn’t, cut the longer styles. The Barber Shop and Co. does provide classes and learning opportunities for those of its employees who want to learn new ways to cut.
Although the tagline and atmosphere is certainly directed toward men, Thomas says she has quite a female following as well. And with haircuts at $14.99, compared to the typical $40-50 that you’ll find for just a basic cut and blow dry at a salon, the shop drives a hard bargain. They also provide children’s haircuts and have a kids’ corner with toys for children while they wait for a parent to get a cut.
“Our claim to fame is we are community,” Thomas said. “Our customers expect a standard and that’s what they get.”