Friday, January 28, 2011

Cook's Barber Shop

Harvey's Progressive Barber Shop
I wanted a haircut, ok, I have very little hair, my head shaved! Growing up as an African-American male in the suburbs be it either in New Castle, Delaware or Richmond, Virginia in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s, I really only had one option as to where to get a cut, “In town”  a.k.a downtown. When in Richmond and even after my departure, I have frequented Harvey’s Progressive Barber Shop on Broad St. for over 20 years. I love Harvey’s! Can’t describe it, one just has to experience it! And, at Harvey’s, I have frequented the same barber, my man, Tom for over 20 years. I’m in Richmond, with my family visiting my folks and on this day, I do not feel like driving the 20-25 minutes from my mom’s into downtown Richmond. So, I decided to try Cook’s Barber Shop.

Cook’s Barber Shop is located in a shopping center not too far from the house in which I grew up. It is next to the dry cleaners, shoe repair, and my favorite Richmond pizza joint, Sal’s Famous; establishments that I and my family have patronized for years. The reason why I never previously thought about stepping foot in Cook’s is because I never saw anyone who resembled me getting their hair cut there. But, since moving from Richmond and having a variety of people shave my head and face over the years in a variety of settings (I once got my head and face shaved in Kuwait in a shell of a building and the barber sterilized everything with a lighter. Got a great cut and shave and the atmosphere was lively.)  I was like, “Let’s give Cook’s a try.”

So, I pull up to Cook’s and I was stunned! The barbershop was still there and the Cook’s Barbershop logo was still there, but there was also a sign in the bottom left hand corner that read, “Edify 360.” The barbers were now 3 African-American men, not the older Caucasian gentleman I was accustom to seeing, and the clientele was now extremely diverse. I was floored! I entered the shop and began chatting up the first barber who was the proprietor. The proprietor is of Haitian descent and a deeply religious man and when we were conversing he remarked, “The good Lord has blessed me with the ability to cut hair, the opportunity to purchase Cook’s, and I will use my talents and this opportunity to serve everyone, I’m here to serve. Praise God.” And serving he was! In addition to himself, he had his son, and another young guy who he was teaching to cut working on the customers and business was good. The barbers banter with the clientele had a familiarity to it indicating that many of the patrons were regulars and the regulars were Hispanic, African-American, Caucasian and a variety of others. A true reflection of the U.S. I was especially touched when an older Caucasian WWII Veteran (His age and the hat that he was wearing indicated he was a WWII Vet) entered the shop for a cut and everyone called his name. This cat was definitely a regular and he beamed when everyone called his name. I was digging the vibe of this place! My initial experience was great as were the prices.

I will always love Harvey’s Progressive on the corner of Broad and First Streets in downtown Richmond and I will still go there for a cut when I’m on that side of town, but I think that I have finally found a barbershop not far my folks in the 360 West Shopping Center in the suburbs of Richmond that is cutting all and serving all. I love it!

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