For most guys, getting a haircut is a necessary (and tedious) chore.
Sam Bu ffa and his bicoastal Fellow Barber shops have figured out a way to elevate the experience.
Fellow Barber clients don’t just spend more money ($US45, to be exact) on a haircut, they spend more time waiting to get into Fellow Barber.
The brand’s locations (three in New York, two in San Francisco) are so popular that nearly all of them have wait times averaging one to two hours — at all times of day.
Why are men lining up for haircuts at Fellow Barber? Firstly, Fellow doesn’t take appointments. (Its website offers “online check-in” for clients to check the wait time and join the wait list.) And its appeal goes far beyond the understated yet masculine shop atmosphere.
Asked about the brand’s success, Buffa points to the elevation of the craft of barbering itself, which he’s reinvigorated and brought into the modern era.
Wait times for a haircut average one to two hours — at all times of day.
Put simply, Fellow Barber has that classic combination of a good product and superior customer service.
Buffa, who opened his first barbershop in the back of a clothing store in 2006, says men were clamoring for this unique kind of high quality service, which he describes as a hybrid of barbering and hairstyling.
“I felt it was very important to get these two worlds that have been separated [and] bring them back together,” he says. “There’s a lot to be learned from barbering and hairstyling in general.”
Differing from the type of old-school barbershop one might find on the East Coast, Buffa prides Fellow as a place where you can get any type of cut you like.
He hires both trained hairstylists and those with a barber’s licence, but they need to be able to do it all — straight-edge razor shaves, scissor cuts, and barber-style, close-cropped clipper cuts (the most popular style today). Fellow also has a training program, which teaches both styling and barbering disciplines, for its staff.
This means you can walk into Fellow Barber and walk out with any kind of haircut you want, be it a 3 on the sides and long on top or just a trim because you’re growing things out.
It’s this versatility that, Buffa believes, will sustain the brand long after de rigueur clipper cuts fade and men start asking for longer hair.
Even for San Francisco and New York gents, the $US45 price of entry is more than the average, but the queue to get in proves that guys are willing to pay for the cut and experience they want.
“It’s still an errand — something you have to do — but it should be an enjoyable experience,” says Buffa.