By Brenlee Coates
No one’s sure what came first – the un-ironic appreciation for the moustache or the sudden lustre of barber shops of decades past, but one thing’s for sure: Hunter & Gunn brought the old-school coiffure back in Winnipeg.
And now, the only major change in business as usual when Movember rolls around is a sudden surge in moustache wax sales.
Usually, the prominent West Broadway barbers are also called upon to do “quick shaves” for the local celebrity participants in the annual fundraiser, but donating their time is also not out of the ordinary for the team.
One dollar from all services and products sold at Hunter & Gunn goes straight back into the community – and the staff is expected to do at least one hour of volunteer work a week. “Everyone does more than that I think,” says owner, Jeremy Regan.
“I’m really, really proud of my staff… for jumping on board with the volunteering.”
In the last two years, Hunter & Gunn has raised $30,000 for Graffiti Art Programming Inc. and The Ladybug Foundation.
This year’s beneficiary, Resource Assistance for Youth, Inc., is on track to receive another generous donation from its neighbourhood barber shop.
Regan has found a formula that works for his business that’s financially viable; he’s able to support his family, give back to the community and help his staff make a good living, while charging relatively low prices for services.
This was all part of his vision when he decided to embark on his own.
After working in pretty much every capacity of the hair industry for over a decade, he left a cozy job at a reputed salon to do things a little differently.
“Basically, I was charging around double what I do now,” says Regan. At Hunter & Gunn, “we’re starting around the Ultracuts and Super Clips (price point).”
Regan explained the formula for hairdressers is typically to raise prices periodically, during which time they lose about 10 to 15 per cent of their clientele.
He wanted to reject this formula, and open a barber shop that wouldn’t cause him to lose any clients. “It’s a barber shop for men, women and children,” says Regan. “I had a very big female clientele that I wanted to keep… Why cut off any market?”
On any given day, Regan says you can see the diversity of the clientele popping in and out of the doors at the 567 Broadway establishment – university students, businessmen and women, the LGBTTQ community, and everything in between.
People expect to see hipsters with fades and immaculate moustaches whipping through the three chairs, but it’s just as likely to be three women getting cuts and colours, says Regan.
Hunter & Gunn does feature some of the usual hipster bait – nostalgic record player, foosball hockey table, mid-century furniture and gourmet coffee, but the barber shop is inviting to most admirers of the throwback institutions, especially with its superior delivery of hot shaves and fades. And they have a tantalizing spread of fashion and culture magazines laid out among the leather couches waiting to be devoured.
Though they serve a no-fuss no-muss, time-slotted haircut, it’s easy to imagine time drifting by while lingering in the seating area, watching the TV that’s perpetually on at the shop, and enjoying the tunes on vinyl.
Maybe the best part of the Hunter & Gunn experience, besides the comforting sight of the red, white and blue striped relic and jumbled art on the walls reminiscent of a simpler time, is the return to barber shop conversation.
All those topics that are supposed to be off the docket are readily encouraged.
“It’s a place where you talk about sex, religion and politics,” says Regan.