In an un-imposing white one-story building on lower Chapala Street, nestled between an insurance shop and an auto garage, a barbershop is springing to life.
Walking through the door on any given day, a mix of customers and friends are talking, eating lunch, drinking a beer or browsing through the selection of shoes, hats, t-shirts and hair products that are for sale.
And of course, the four barbers chairs occupying the floor most likely have customers seated in them, eager for a fresh cut.
“I love the environment, being a local barber, making a name for myself and progressing every day. Just being able to take on any kind of hairstyle that comes through, we have such a variety here,” said Jacob Alvarado, one of three shop barbers. “We’re that type of shop that doesn’t discriminate. We welcome everybody, from the youngest to the oldest, we try to cater to it all.”
SB Barbers is a small shop, founded and run by Santa Barbara locals with a strong following of delighted customers. The shop offers mean cuts as well as featuring a selection of clothing designed by local artists and a selection of kicks that would make any shoe enthusiast drool.
Ernie Vasquez and Larry Hernandez founded the barbershop in 1962. Josh Luna came from a family of barbers and is the current shop owner. He works alongside close friend Ito Salgado, and the two have taken the shop to new heights.
When the shop was taken over, the shop wasn’t doing great. Under the new direction and vision, the shop is taking off and is planning to make the move to a bigger location on the corner of State and Ortega.
Daniel Talbot, 20, a student at Westmont College was very satisfied after he got his haircut.
“It was good. I was first surprised by the attention to detail. I think initially people just rush through a haircut, but they definitely spent a lot of time getting it done,” Talbot said. “I didn’t feel like just another customer getting rushed through, I felt like I was valued.”
And that is exactly what SB Barbers is hoping to accomplish. The shop is run on the principle that customers should walk out not only happy with their haircut, but happy with the way they were treated, down to every last detail which, for customers over 21, could be as simple as a complementary beer.
SB Barbers is special as far as barbershops go in the fact that they are attempting to be an art gallery, clothing retail store and a barbershop. It has numerous pieces of artwork drawn and painted by local artists and also displays hats and t-shirts designed by both Josh Luna and local clothing company B.O.T.H., standing for ‘Beware Of The Humans.’ The shirts cost $20 and the hats run from $25 to $40.
Luna hopes there will soon be a community of people walking around wearing his shirts. Happy customers that are proud to represent the barbershop they love.