Barbershops: the luxuries of your grandpa’s era

It was a chilly, cloudy day in October of 2012 when I rode my bike off campus to get my first haircut at a real barbershop. I felt it was time for a change, and what better place is there to get your hair cut short than a barber shop? As I left campus, I pictured in my head what might await me. Against my better judgement and skepticism, I imagined walking into a small, smoky wood-panelled room where big, burly men were getting straight razor shaves and complaining about last night’s game.

I saw myself approaching the register, getting strange looks from the barber as he frowned from beneath his moustache at me, a shaggy-haired 18-year-old. I would ask for a haircut, and the other patrons would cease their conversations and glance over at the college kid who had just invaded their personal space like a road bike enthusiast among a gang of Harley riders. The barber would then joke, “I think I’ll have to charge you extra for the amount of work.” The room would burst into raucous, hearty laughter not unlike what I imagined a gang of pirates to sound like.

But the laughter in my head ceased as I arrived at the shop and chained up my bike. I walked into a small, wood-panelled room with only two barber’s chairs. For a brief moment, I felt my imagination suggest, “I told you so.” But I pressed on and asked for a haircut, a short one. Within 15 minutes I emerged from the chair with a great haircut and a razor shave. My true barbershop experience was completed when I found out they didn’t take credit cards, so I had to run to an ATM and grab some cash. As I left the shop, I felt as though I had spent a moment in the wild west, or some bygone time.

I think that is the appeal of barbershops — they’re unique, personal, attentive and atmospheric, and luckily Bozeman has a wealth of them. So be sure to experience a pleasure from another era from one of these establishments:

Tonsorial Parlor Barbershop

Location:  26 W Main St. Bozeman, MT 59715

Prices: Moderate $$

The Tonsorial Parlor is your barbershop standard. It has the western, old-fashioned feel you’d expect while offering great haircuts and shaves. This shop is definitely aimed more at men’s haircuts as most barbershops are. A haircut here will cost you a little more than your standard chain-store cut, but it won’t break the bank. Also, be sure to bring cash as the Tonsorial Parlor does not accept cards.

The Barbershop and Shaving Parlor

Location: 220 N 7th Ave. Bozeman, MT 59715

Prices: Moderate $$

The Barbershop and Shaving Parlor is definitely one of, if not the most traditional barbershop in Bozeman. The proprietor is a third generation barber and specializes in working with a straight-razor. In addition to haircuts, this shop offers options for beard and moustache care. Going the truly traditional path, they only accept walk-ins, so make sure you have some free time if you go there. Expect to pay a little more if you get your hair cut here, but it’s well worth the extra money.

Northgate Barbershop

Location: 910 N 7th Ave #1, Bozeman, MT 59715

Prices: Moderate to Low $

This is the first barbershop I ever visited (so I am perhaps a bit biased,) but this is a little-known, great place to get your hair cut. It has a great atmosphere and friendly, personable barbers. The one who cut my hair gave me a razor shave that extended to around my ears and the nape of my neck. It also has a quintessential small-town feel that makes it warm and personal. It wasn’t the cheapest haircut in Bozeman, but it was less expensive than some of the other barbershops.

These are all great places to get a haircut, but each has it’s own unique aspects, and there are other shops not listed here. Try as many barbers as you can and get a feel for them all, you might find a favorite and become a regular, and developing a personal relationship with a barber can assure a fantastic cut every time. Go out and experience the luxuries of a better more social l time and support local businesses.