Luke Dolan of Luke’s Barbershop explains how barbershops are making the British High Street great again.
When I bought my first shop and started my first business four years ago, the only shop I could afford was in a very small parade which was located nowhere near any transport links and had zero foot fall. I was told by neighbouring businesses that my chances of succeeding were extremely low and one even said “I’ve been here over 30 years and a barber has never ever worked, I’ll give you six months”. Nice huh!? Needless to say that comment lit a fire under me and after four years, that shop has now become a destination that people travel for miles around to come to. Surrounding businesses have added more lines to their shops and have seen an upturn in profit from the extra custom that my shop has provided. I have smugly reminded this particular person of his statement four years ago and he can’t remember saying it now. Well I remember and I suppose I should thank him for that comment because it made me even more determined to make it work.
What I also found was that I was bringing people back to the smaller High Streets who had been disappearing to big malls or the big shopping precincts because that’s the way our lifestyle and culture has gone now. Whilst the smaller parades crumble and fall the big conglomerates who own malls and the big chains are sucking more and more of the general public through their doors. I thought to myself that we need more independent stores to open to introduce people back to the little High Streets and breathe some life into the declining areas that neighbour us all.
The independent stores were in decline and peoples’ imaginations were at an all-time low. I’m going to go out on a limb now but the High Streets that were dying nationwide have started to blossom again and I think our amazing industry has been a major part of doing that. We need to all stand back and take a look at the bigger picture and see what we ALL have achieved.
The Local Data Company’s latest Leisure and Retail report revealed that more barbers and beauty businesses opened in 2016 than ever before, overtaking tearooms, coffee shops and take-aways in popularity.
Types of businesses opening sites:
With barbering, beauty, nail salons and hair and beauty salons occupying four out of the 10 top slots, the hair and beauty industry combined saw the highest number of new businesses opening in Great Britain.
All these new stores that are now opening across the whole industry, with quirky designs and breaking conventional ideas of how a salon or barbershop should look, have given ideas to other sectors who are now following suit. I know McDonald’s, in their latest advert for coffee, poke fun at all these ‘too cool for school’ coffee establishments which in turn shows that maybe people are starting to get a little tired of the over complicated coolness of some things. I feel that they even imply that its becoming cool to not be cool. Maybe we should try to learn from this and in the coming months start to think about our basic procedures, how we can simplify and remember our existing customer bases, look at our businesses through their eyes and not just the eyes of new customers. Remember the little people that helped get us here instead of the people that MAY takes us to somewhere we haven’t been yet.
It makes me super proud that I could be a small part of this country getting back on its feet again and it shows that all of us can make a difference, albeit a small one, it’s still a difference. We may continue to be the brunt of convertible sports car jokes, “that’s a hairdresser’s car that” and if you dare have tattoos and a beard you are now sneered at as ‘hipster’. Well without us hipster, convertible driving entrepreneurs who took the jump to own our own businesses and risked everything we had to succeed, the very face of our High Streets would look very different and maybe, just maybe, this country’s economy wouldn’t be getting stronger year on year. We won’t get many thanks for this from the HMRC or the press and media but for what it’s worth Britain…….you’re welcome!