How to Open a Stand-Out Barber Shop

In case you haven’t heard, men’s grooming is in. Gone are the days of the slovenly bachelor. In the last few years, home-grooming brands like Dollar Shave Club and MANSCAPED have seen explosive popularity. Meanwhile, ads from countless brands are making men’s morning routines more than socially acceptable — they’re downright hip.

According to Statista, the men’s grooming industry is projected to be worth $81.2 billion globally by 2024. What does this mean for the salon industry?

The barber shop is back — and with a few modern twists. From creative shop layouts to booze-infused waiting areas, creative salon owners are changing the barber shop game.

Want to get a cut of these up-and-coming barber shop or men’s salon? Here are seven tips for opening (or upgrading) your very own modern barber shop.

Photo: Scissors & Scotch Product: Collins 9060 Commander II Barber Chair

1. Get Creative With Your Barber Shop Concept

Ever considered starting a barber shop in a BMX bike shop? How about opening a cocktail bar in the back, a custom clothing store, or a gaming station complete with the latest Xbox games in the front? These ideas may sound off the wall, but some of today’s most successful barber shops are attracting clients with above-and-beyond barber shop layouts. Sure, these will require more planning and consideration than the average barber shop, but a unique experience and a fun environment might be the key to creating a long line outside your door. Let us help you plan your barber shop layout!

Photo: The Black Rabbit Barbershop - Brooklyn, NY

2. Collaborate With Local Businesses

When it comes to creative barber shop setups, The Black Rabbit Barbershop in Brooklyn is a great example: their back wall is a showroom space for a local leatherworker, which adds an artistic (and dare we say ultra-manly) vibe to their shop.

Collaborating with local artisans, food and drink suppliers, and artists not only creates a unique atmosphere, it also fosters local connections that can help both you and your partners thrive. This could mean anything from hiring a local artist to paint a mural for your shop, to stocking your mini-fridge with complimentary, locally brewed beers.

Photo: Nobleman Product: Pibbs 662 King Barber Chair

3. Offer Libations

These days, it’s not uncommon to be offered a complimentary glass of whiskey with your shave. Some shops keep it simple, offering a cold beer to patrons. Others take it to the next level, like the Blind Barber, which has a full cocktail bar in the back of every location.

Offering a drink adds an extra touch of hospitality to your haircutting services. But you’ll need to be mindful of your local legislation for serving alcohol. Some states allow barber shops and salons to provide complimentary beverages to their patrons without a liquor license, while others have stricter laws in place. Do some thorough research, and you’ll be on your way to becoming a boozy barber.

Photo: Scissors & Scotch Product: Collins 9060 Commander II Barber Chair

4. Build a Strong Brand

In San Francisco, Dogpatch Barber Shop serves close-cut shaves with a punk inspiration. NYC’s York Barber Shop plays on its history with an old-school style that hasn’t changed much since it opened in 1928. Spruce, in Denver, caters to the resurgence of beards with a lumberjack theme.

Building your shop or men’s salon on a theme or concept not only creates a unique brand that stands out from other local shops, it also creates an immersive experience for your patrons.

Once you have your brand nailed down, create a marketing plan that will grow your barber shop and help you stay connected with your clients.

Photo: Hudson Hawk Barbers Product: Pibbs 663 Master Barber Chair

5. Choose Equipment with Style

After you’ve got a strong branding foundation, it’s time to start choosing equipment to match. Take Hudson Hawk Barber Shop, for example. Their motto is “Your traditional neighborhood barbershop and the future of men’s grooming.” So we helped them select a chair that perfectly embodies their motto, the Pibbs 663 Master Barber Chair. It's classic white & black colors and vintage components sit in perfect contrast to its modern white fiberglass base finish and steel frame, creating a chair that embodies both barber shop tradition and modern style.

Or how about True North in Phoenix, Arizona? When it came to choosing equipment to match their rustic vibe, they furnished their shop with chairs that have old-school class.

Photo: True North Barbers Product: Alesso Professional Barber Chair

6. Set Up Your Stations

Your stations are key to nailing your concept and shop aesthetic. But it’s not just about looks — an optimized barber station will improve your workflow and client experience. Here are tips to consider when setting up your barber stations:

- Organize your tools. Make sure the essentials are within arm’s reach and that less-frequently used tools are neatly tucked away. Check out our list of essential barber tools here.
- Merchandise your products. A cluttered station can be unsightly and make it hard for clients to see the products you’re using (or remember them at checkout). Limit the products on your station and straighten them out between services for a clean look.
- Keep towels handy. Can you ever have enough towels? Keep plenty around your station (folded neatly or in a cabinet) and you won’t ever have to know the answer to that question.
- Remember your concept. It’s often the little details that bring your shop concept to life. Offering libations? Place handsome leather coasters on your stations. Partnering with a local business? Highlight their wares at your station so the client has time to appreciate them.


7. Don't Forget the Basics

Being creative may be the key to opening a modern barber shop, but there are some basic considerations to keep in mind, too. Don’t lose sight of the functional elements of your business. These four steps are key to setting up your barber shop:

- Map out your process. Our comprehensive guide to opening a salon can teach you the basics of starting a barber shop from navigating legal requirements to cutting the ribbon on opening day.
- Create a business plan. Setting up a barbershop is expensive, demanding work. A business plan will act as your north star when making financial and operational decisions along the way.
- Design your shop layout. Thoughtful planning can help you create a shop that is intuitive and comfortable. Whether you’re deciding between a classic front reception area and a speakeasy-inspired lounge in the back, or deciding between chair-side wet stations and a separate shampoo area, every decision will shape your client’s experience.
- Hire a top-notch team. As a business owner, chances are you’ll eat, sleep, and breathe your work (especially in the early days). But you can’t do it all. Hiring a team that is passionate about their craft and shares your company values will ensure your shop delivers a consistent, quality experience.

Once you’ve got the fundamentals down, you’ll be on track to owning and operating a successful barber shop.

Need Help?

With so many things to consider, starting your own barber shop can be overwhelming. But our experts are here to help! Ask us anything, from how to finance your barber shop to what barber equipment you’ll need. Contact a Buy-Rite expert today!

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