Banning Barber Poles at Michigan Salons?

Barber Pole Laws

What do you think of when you see a spiraling blue, white and red pole? Generally, a barber’s shop comes to mind; however, hairstylists oftentimes use these tri-colored poles as a representation of their businesses, as well. The two groups of haircutters are now battling legally over who can claim rights to use this symbol to indicate to potential customers that there’s some haircutting going on inside those walls.

In Minnesota, a proposal has been initiated that would dictate who has the right to place a barber pole in front of their shop. Barbers are arguing that the cylinder is a time-honored tradition that accurately depicts their craft. In fact, the barber pole denotes the white and red blood-soaked bandages that once were associated with barbering. The blue signifies veins, and all three colors date back to when barbers were legally allowed to perform medical procedures, including blood drawing and tooth extraction. During that time, poles were near barbershops for a client to grip to better expose the vein.

Barbers claim that they are entitled to exclusive rights to use the barber pole outside their businesses, because it has been a tradition for these spiraling poles to belong their craft. Cosmetologists like Jeanie Thompson, president of the Minnesota Salon and Spa Association state that a hairstylist can cut a man’s hair too, so why should barbers be the only ones who have dibs on this pole? Some hairstylists believe that the entire debate is trivial, silly and some have even said chauvinist. Many hairstylists say that a haircut is a haircut, and barbers and stylists alike give haircuts, so why do barbers get to be the only ones to use the poles?

This debate even has a couple disagreeing about who is allowed to use this haircutting icon. Joel and Lisa Martin, a married couple who own Cahill Salon & Barber Parlor in Rosemount, Minnesota, might be able to own a business together and live together, but their opinions on this legislation are split. Lisa Martin thinks anyone cuts hair should be able to display a barber pole. Her business has a barber pole in front of it, but one side of her shop is dedicated to her husband’s barbering, while her side of the business is devoted to hairstyling and salon products. On the contrary, husband Joel Martin feels that a pole is for advertising purposes and can be misleading. Many men will not go to a salon, since many salons do not have a licensed barber on staff. Joel feels that the pole lets men know that this is a place to come for a shave, a cut and a licensed barber to do it.

We would love to hear what you think about this bill. Let us know in the comments if you think barbers should have a monopoly on barber poles or if anyone who cuts hair can showcase one outside their building!

(Looking for a barber pole for your own business? Check out barber shop poles and signs.)