SAINT JOHN– A new barbershop in uptown Saint John is channeling the city’s Irish history and catering to clients young and old.
The Shamrock Barbershop opened last month at 105 Princess Street in uptown Saint John. The shop was started by Harry Gorman, a former tradesman who took a jump into entrepreneurship at the urging of his friend, barber Josh Flooks.
“Last 10 years I was in trades out west. I moved back to Saint John to take care of my son full-time,” says Gorman. “I was at the refinery insulators union and I wasn’t happy. Josh has been at me for a long time saying, ‘why don’t we try opening a shop?’ ”
Gorman’s last day of work was the day of the explosion at Irving Oil Refinery October 8. He immediately started renovations 105 Princess Street, which was formerly a Money Mart. The store has since transformed into a shop living up to its name, with dark green walls, sleep green leather barber chairs and rich woodwork.
The idea for the shop’s Irish theme came from Gorman’s heritage as well as a nod to Saint John’s Irish history.
“We’re one of the oldest Irish cities in Canada, so I basically thought, ‘let’s just use that theme for our shop. Compared to most generic shops around that are kind of modern or a little hip-hop,” says Gorman. “I thought we’d bring something back and have it a little vogue and traditional and I feel like that would be really good for the upscale clients and for what we’re trying to do.”
Shamrock Barbershop officially opened January 8 and currently has two full-time barbers, Flooks and Dustin Hurry. They will be hiring a third barber in April, and Gorman is also apprenticing to be a barber himself.
Flooks says they want the shop to be a place where any guy would feel comfortable sitting in the chair.
“A lot of people don’t feel comfortable bringing their grandfather or their grandson to a place. I cut a lot of kids’ hair, so we’re really good with kids and Dustin is awesome with the older guys,” he says.
“And the business professionals keep on coming through. They see it. They like it and they come back.”
Though there are two other barbershops operating in the city’s uptown, it’s those professional clients Gorman especially hopes to attract, given the shop’s location.
“One of the reasons I decided to do this is because I noticed how the Saint John economy is changing,” he says. “We’re the closest shop to the new Irving Oil Headquarters. They have to drive past and or walk past us.”
With a new influx of people expected to be working in the city’s centre Flooks says that it’s giving more opportunities for barbers to make a living in Saint John. It’s a different climate since he finished barber school several years back.
“Before there were so many for us, people couldn’t find curriculum. We were basically telling people ‘hey if you want to be a barber, move away when you’re done school,'” says Flooks. “But now, it seems to be equaling out, especially with Irving coming, that’s a lot of clients.”
Though there is some competition in the city, Shamrock Barbershop plans to stay ahead of the curve, as the only barbershop in town that takes online bookings. He eventually plans to get the shop licensed, so clients can enjoy a beer with their cut or shave.
“We just jumped on the train really, but basically we wanted everyone to chase us. We didn’t want to be like everyone else,” says Gorman.
“You hear a lot about, ‘who’s the best barber’, but you don’t hear anything about ‘what’s the best shop,’ ” adds Flooks. “We’re trying to aim to be the best shop.’ “