>New Beginnings…and More

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Monday I spent two hours at New Beginnings, a barber shop, with my husband and neither of us got a haircut or a shave. We didn’t need one at the time but, although New Beginnings provides haircuts and shaves, it’s much more than just a barber shop. It’s an experience.

When you walk in to New Beginnings, located at 1047 Hollins St. in Baltimore, you might mistake it at first for an art gallery. Then you notice the barber chairs. This barber shop appears to be the most unique in Baltimore—and maybe in the country.

Its windows are filled with three-dimentional art, walls are covered with paintings and photographs, good music plays in the background, Wi-Fi is available and books line a reading area below a spiral staircase. Oh, and did I say it offers haircuts? Even more than all these things, New Beginnings offers community.

In a time of Twitter, Facebook and hyper-connectivity, New Beginnings lets people find new connections in real time. The time and space is relaxed and friendly.

And you might even learn something too. For instance, customer William Gunn, who is usually called Skip, gave advice on cooking beets. “You wrap them individually in aluminum foil and bake for about an hour. Then soak them in vinegar and sugar.” He adds that beets from the local farmer’s market will beat what you find in a can.

Troy Staton, one of the owners and an art lover, has several goals in showing art in his barber shop. Besides adding class to the ambiance, he says, “I hope it will be a gateway [to art experience].” He mentions a client who was motivated to go to the National Gallery and take his son because of the art he liked on the barber shop walls.

Troy claims that New Beginnings should not be unique. “We’re doing what barber shops have always done in the past but today the standard has been lowered.”

 Besides providing an environment for interesting conversation, Troy and his partners are committed to community. As I sit and soak up the ambiance, Troy is constantly waving back to people in the community who pass by his window. Many of the clients have returned to this barber shop for 20 years, despite changes in location.

“It’s an everyday man’s social club,” Troy says. Add an occasional woman or two also.

 “It’s fun to come here. If I didn’t, I’d miss talk about sports and women,” Skip adds.

The commitment of this neighborhood barber shop goes beyond a friendly environment. Last year, they collected and donated more than 1100 pounds of food for the Food Bank. Troy talks about customer appreciation day during the holidays with free food and raffle prizes which include a free haircut, movie tickets and dinner for two at a good Baltimore restaurant.

Community participation also extends to the Baltimore Youth Work program by providing summer jobs for teens six hours a day.

Although decor and ambiance of New Beginnings provide a feel good setting, Skip reminds us that it “would be nothing without the people.” I think he’s right.

For more information, see the New Beginnings Web site.

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About Bonnie Schupp

Photographer and Renaissance woman.
This entry was posted in Baltimore, barber shop, Maryland, New Beginnings, Troy Staton, unique. Bookmark the permalink.

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