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Barber shops evolve, make a comeback in SoCal

February 3, 2011 12:53:46 AM PST
Once in decline, the neighborhood barber shop is making a comeback. There has been a steady growth of successful grooming venues catering specifically to men, providing a place for men to gather to get pampered.

The Art of Shaving, located at the Americana in Glendale, is just one example of the growing popularity.

The tools of a traditional barber shop, including the straight-edge razor, hot towels and foamy shaving cream, have evolved to also include essential oil aromatherapy and natural grooming products designed just for the fellas.

Already popular with bachelor parties and groomsmen, the Art of Shaving sees a lot of clients before date night and other special occasions. The evolution is attracting a lot of attention.

"Most of our clients are bankers, doctors, lawyers, teachers, coaches, salesmen, even barbers," said Steve Gonzalez of the Art of Shaving, who has been a "master barber" for the past eight years.

Gonzalez said they offer a "Perfect Shave," which starts with pre-shave oil. Then they lather, shave and moisturize.

The certified "master barbers" will even teach men and women how to skillfully handle the straight blade.

The Art of Shaving offers women's products as well, and there are several locations throughout Southern California.

In downtown Los Angeles, Bolt Barbers brings back the authentic barber shop - complete with the retro, colorful barber pole out front and the restored, plush leather barber chairs inside.

"Even though we're an old-school barber shop, we're never old fashioned," said founder Mohawk Matt, a former marketing executive turned certified barber.

Customers can enjoy plasma TVs, a vintage shuffle board, candy machines and frosty root beer imported from Milwaukee.

"Salons are pretty much designed by women for women, so guys come in here, and they feel comfortable, they can relax," Mohawk Matt said.

Bolt Barbers stays open late, and there are monthly parties and events.

The popular "Big Sundays" is a time when clients can enjoy complimentary bourbon and cigars in addition to their barber services.

Mohawk Matt said they offer what they call the three prides: shearing, shaving and shining.

"That's our passion, and that's what we practice, and that's all we do," he said.

Prices for haircuts range from $7 to $28. Shaves start at $17.50, and shoe-shining services range from $7 to $25.