October 04, 2019

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BARBERSHOP BOOM


Interested in making a safe investment? Put your money into a barbershop.


At a time when communities, media, and politicians are expressing concern about the struggle of ‘mom and pop’ shops and the overall increase in vacant storefronts across New York City, one business area is exploding – barbershops. So much so that a report released in August by theDepartment of City Planning assessing the growing trend storefront vacancy across the city, noted that while in certain corridors across Gotham are experiencing vacancy blight, service-related businesses have grown significantly, led by personal care.


But you don’t need a report to tell you about the boom in barbershops across the city. Just take a stroll around Ninth Avenue and West 46th Street, where 20 years ago there was a lone barbershop that serviced residents within several blocks. In 2018, on that block alone, there were four barbershops. And while conventional logic would have predicted the burst of a ‘barbershop bubble’ a year ago, 2019 saw two additional barbershops open on that block, raising the area’s tonsorial total to six.


But the situation wasn’t always so bright in the barbering industry. A 2017Forbes article citing census data, noted that in the years between 1992 to 2012, there was a 23% decrease in barbershops nationwide. However,since 2013, growth rates for the industry have been at 10%, which is equal to the number of newly licensed barbers. That makes barbering among the fastest-growing professions right now in the country. This is a trend that will be around for a while. According to 2015 grooming study byModern Salon found that 71% of men are loyal to their barbers for more than seven years – that’s almost as good as the average nine years that first or ‘starter marriages’ last!


So why the boom? While there are a lot of factors involved, we’ve identified four major reasons why barbershops have become increasingly popular and omnipresent. 


Filling a Niche

Since men need their hair cut every two to four weeks, expensive salons are bank-busters. And nobody wants to admit that they get their hair cut at The Lemon Tree or Supercuts. A traditional barbershop is the cost-efficient middle ground between high-end salons and low-end chop shops.

 

Location, Location, Location

More and more people are living in cities. TheModern Salon report noted that convenience to work or home is the primary driver in choosing a barbershop. This explains how a single block in Hell’s Kitchen, a neighborhood that’s seen a two-decade influx of image-conscious gay men, can support six barbershops on one block alone.

 

Landlords Love Them!

Barbershops don’t require a lot of square footage. In fact,Forbes noted that most shops prefer what is known as “bowling alley space,” which is a narrow storefront, a lot of depth, and minimal stock space. These are traditionally hard to lease.

 

An Undisputable Industry

Unlike many brick and mortar retail operations, barbershops are not in danger of being put out of business due to e-commerce. Unless you’re shopping for one of those vacuum cleaner Flowbee haircutting system, a trim or professional cut is one of the few things that Amazon Prime won’t deliver to your doorstep.

Bobby McQuire