The BEST barbershops in the Southern Highlands
You're in a new city and away from your typical barber, yet you find yourself in sudden need of a fresh cut. How do you know who to trust with your hair?
Sure, you could try and do some Googling for well-respected barbers, but there's really no need. When you pay attention to certain things, it's easy to judge the worthiness of a barbershop.
Here are a few ways you can tell you're in the right place.
- The easiest way to tell if a barbershop is worth its salt is to see how difficult it is to get an appointment there. If you can get an appointment same day for a popular time (after the office crowd gets out of work or during lunch), it's likely the shop isn't well-liked by the locals. If the shop doesn't take appointments, that's not necessarily a bad sign - as long as it's busy.
- Notice how long customers are spending in the chair as you're waiting for your cut. If they're out in 15 minutes, there's a good chance the customers are not getting the best treatment. When it comes to haircuts, a slow, methodical cut beats a quick, hasty one every time.
- It may seem trivial, but things like shop decor and friendliness of staff counts. When a shop pays attention to the details in these areas, it can indicate that it pays attention to others too (like your hair).
- Pay attention during the hair cut, it's important. Did the barber secure your cape correctly? Did they ask you how you wanted your haircut? Did they follow your instructions at all? If the answer is no to any of these questions, you probably shouldn't make it your regular shop.
Getting a haircut isn't supposed to be complicated.
After all, you've been doing it since you were old enough to sit still in a chair.
But there are some things you can do to make your next barbershop visit run smoother for both you and your barber, that you might not have realized.
First, a bit of background on the topic of barber shops. My grandfather, Herman Haire for many years owned and operated City Barber Shop on East Main Street, high up the Blue Ridge Mountains in the beautiful town of West Jefferson, NC (scenic Ashe County). Oh, I was giddy every time we visited my grandparents to visit the barbershop for a haircut and a (faux) straight razor shave just like the grown men in the chairs next to me. Place a nickel in the scale to see your weight and fortune, before sidling up to the checkerboard to watch the masters of checkers (my father as a teenager once played and beat the Virginia state checkers champion right there in the barbershop by the old pot belly stove. Word has it, my father could see five moves ahead). City Barber Shop had it all. Need to clean up? No worries, hit the showers in back, then let Herman, Bradshaw White or Baynard Gamble give you an exceptional shave and haircut. What man wants to hit the town on a Friday or Saturday evening only half prepared? Step up onto the shoeshine platform and watch the attendant shine your broghans, wingtips or penny loafers as bright as the Emerald City. Then walk next door to the Eat Well Cafe, also owned and operated by my grandmother, Pauline Haire for a meat and three meal as good as your mother made. Now you're ready for a show right across the street at the Parkway Theater. If you were lucky, you might have been able to see Earl Scruggs or Bill Monroe in concert.
Over the years, my grandfather shared a bit of wisdom with me each time I sat in the chair. Along with my observations, we have enumerated how to be a good client while in the chair.
1. Don't be impatient.
As Herman said, a good barber is probably a busy barber. And a good barber takes his time. They always try to stick to their schedule, but it doesn't always pan out that way, especially with pickier customers. Additionally, don't jump in the chair as soon as the previous client hops out.
2. Don't freak out about hair clippings.
Things will get a little hairy sometimes, but that's what the cape is for.
3. Don't expect your barber to be a magician.
Bringing an inspiration photo is always helpful, but know that the person in the photo has an entirely different quality of hair and scalp. Your haircut isn't going to be a dead-ringer for the one in the photo.
4. Don't nod.
Conversation is natural, sometimes even encouraged. But talk with your hands, not the nod of your head. If your barber places his hands on your head to steady it, that's the international sign to stop moving.
5. Don't lay down mandates.
Let the barber choose the tools. Don't demand a scissor cut because you think it finishes better. Similarly, don't claim you're growing your hair out — because you wouldn't be sitting for a haircut if that were true. Trust your barber.
6. Don't be too picky.
Your barber is happy to adjust the haircut to your liking, but speak up before the cut is finished. You're only paying for one haircut, not five.
7. Don't show up with messy or dirty hair.
Comb it, don't slather it with product, and, especially if there's no pre-cut shampoo, make sure it's clean.
8. Don't be weird about the tip.
Use it as a chance to say how much you liked the cut. Also, it's usually preferable to hand the tip to your barber, not the receptionist.
The Reader's Choices Awards
The 2018 results are in! Here are your choices for the Top Cut in the Southern Highlands
All of the barbers in these shops are experts at their profession. However, each business is unique in it's aesthetic. For instance, Floyd’s Barber Shop in the beloved town of Mayberry, Floyd’s City Barber Shop has been a staple among the attractions of downtown Mount Airy. A collection of thousands of pictures line the wall on the “Wall of Fame.” Owner Russell Hiatt has been snapping pictures of customers sitting in his barber chair for over 62 years, including celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, the “Incredible Hulk” Lou Ferrigno, and “Goober” – George Lindsey.
The coveted Readers Choice goes to West End Barber Co. in the West End of Greenville, SC
A close second goes to Liberty Fine Cuts and Shaves also in Greenville, SC
Lugi's Barbershop in downtown Gatlinburg, TN
The UpperRoom Barbershop, Blacksburg, VA
Floyd's City Barber, Mount Airy, NC (AKA Mayberry)
- Blue Ridge Barbershop, Blue Ridge, Georgia