FREDERICTON – Rob Reese is fully committed to the classic barbershop concept. His shop in Fredericton, The Royal Barbershop has all you’d expect from the experience, from hot shaves with straight razors, to shoe shines and a humidor fully stocked with Cuban cigars.
The Royal Barbershop has the feel of a classic barbershop, with decor meticulously chosen to evoke a vintage vibe. Reese points out an antique scale and a fully-functioning retro arcade game for waiting clients.
The shop also carries men’s grooming products, including their own line of all-natural, made in Canada beard oil, beard balm, hair oil and shave foam.
“It feels like a barbershop: the colours, the flooring, the scents,” he says. “It needs to smell like a barbershop, look like a barbershop, feel like a barbershop. It’s everything from when you walk in the door until you leave; it needs to stay in your memory as the barbershop [you] want to come back to.”
Reese spent most of his career working in the bar and entertainment industry in Las Vegas, but was looking for a slower paced life for himself and his family and decided to pursue his dream of opening a barbershop.
After a year in barber school in Nashville, Reese moved to Fredericton to continue raising his family and explore the possibility of business here. Two years later, Reese says the business has been growing faster than he ever expected.
Before I came here, you couldn’t get a hot shave anywhere in Fredericton,” he says. “It’s been 20 years since a barbershop [here] would shave you. It’s a very unique skillset.”
Reese says he has recruited and specially trained his barbers to offer the full package, with a focus on precision haircuts and straight razor hot shaves.
The Royal Barbershop is offering more than simply a haircut and a shave; Reese wants to give clients an experience that will keep them coming back. He counts on loyalty from his clients, but that loyalty is something he gives his clients in return.
He recently hosted an evening of whiskey tasting for 30 of his “best clients,” something he says may turn into more of a regular offering in the future.
As a former bar and recording studio owner, Reese is currently establishing another endeavour as a business consultant specializing in startups, nightlife, and events. He became open to the idea after a number of people approached him for advice on establishing their own businesses and he realized the demand.
“I’ve been an entrepreneur for a long time so I know how it works. I’m willing to share that,” he says. “It’s any business… We can talk business on many levels and it’s all about branding and how you present yourself in public.”
Reese says he hopes to eventually expand to more locations in the East Coast and West Coast of Canada and possibly beyond, thanks to business ties he still retains in the U.S.
“That’s a possibility over the next couple years,” he says. “We’ll see how it goes.”
“I am so far ahead of where I thought I was going to be. It’s amazing. The business has grown so much. [We’ve done] over 26,000 haircuts and shaves since we’ve been here. Every day I still see new faces.”
Cara Smith is a freelance writer in Fredericton.