History of the One-Chair Barber Shop

One-Chair Barber Shop

The one-chaired barber shop (or “single-chair barber shop”) has an amazing history in the world of barbering. These shops provide patrons with a unique one-on-one, personal barber experience, and even some salons have incorporated this concept in their establishments. Despite the long history of these barber shops, their fate is much different that what it is used to be. One prime example is with the shops located in Willmar, Minnesota. Although there isn’t any documentation to prove it, Chuck Oslund states that the city of Willmar is speculated to have one of the highest ratio of single-chaired barbershops per capita.

However, that claim to fame doesn’t mean that the city hasn’t seen devastation arising from these businesses.  Oslund opened up his doors in the 1970s, and at that time, there were at least six other single-chaired barber shops in the downtown region. Now in 2012, he is closing his doors and leaving only three or four single-chaired barbershops in business. The reason for all of these barber shops closing has to do with the young generation and both their business practices and their barber shop preferences. For instance, the young generation tends to lean toward multi-chaired salons and barber shops to be able to get more clients in and out the door faster, not to mention the sense of community a multi-chair barber shop provides. Plus, many barbers just getting out of school would rather work in larger places, rather than take over someone’s small one-chair shop with an extensive history of its own. Chuck Oslund owned Chuck’s Barber shop, and he would have loved to been able to sell to a young barber, but he couldn’t find any young barbers who wanted to own a shop in such a rural area.

You’ve probably heard the saying, “When one door closes, another one opens.” The tradition of single-chair barbershops is certainly not dead. In Morris, Minnesota, a pro-golfer opened up a new single-chair barber shop. The 33-year-old Adam Bright put down his putter and picked up a pair of scissors in order to open Bright’s Barber Shop, which is a single-chair shop where customers can come for a haircut and a straight razor shave. Since he’s new to the town, Bright hopes to market his business to the local bowling and golf leagues. Additionally, he hopes to reach out to high school and college students. Adam will carry on the long-lived tradition and history of the single-chair barbershop where men can come for a shave, a cut and talk about the outdoors and sports with one of their trusted friends – their barber.