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For years, Drew Danburry made his living as a musician, traveling the country performing his songs. But when he and his wife decided to have a child, Danburry realized he needed a more stable income and a job that would let him stay close to his home and family. Rather than sending out résumés, he took a less conventional course: He decided to open an old-fashioned barber shop.
He went to barber school and then rented a small commercial space in downtown Provo at the intersection of Center Street and University Avenue. In April 2011 he opened the Danburry Barber Shop and began offering men’s haircuts. “I love what’s going on in downtown Provo,” he said. “There’s a lot of movement and culture coming in. I’ve got a lot of love for Provo as a city.”
The shop has a classic feel. Its décor includes a lot of wood and brass. The waiting area has a leather couch and arm chair and a coffee table with a stack of books. The barber chair is large and deep, made of leather and metal with wooden armrests. Danburry said he wanted his barbershop to have a “classy, gentlemen’s-lounge kind of feel.” He wanted it to be the kind of place you could envision smoking a cigar, drinking a glass of brandy and engaging in lively conversation. The law and local culture don’t allow for cigars and brandy, of course, but the shop specializes in quality conversation and a quality haircut. There’s also a pool table.
Danburry charges a bit more for a haircut than most franchise hair salons, but that allows him to take more time with each customer and ensure an excellent haircut and a relaxed experience, he said. “If you’re charging too little for a haircut, you’re having to rush to make a living,” he said. “I’m going to charge what I charge and be able to take my time on a haircut and make sure it looks good.
The shop’s old-fashioned theme extends beyond the décor. Every haircut includes a scalp massage and a neck shave using a straight razor and hot shaving foam. Danburry also offers face shaves and scalp treatments and uses old-fashioned aftershaves such as bay rum.
The Danburry Barber Shop appeals to a niche market. Some first-time customers don’t like the shop’s distinctive character and don’t return, Danburry says. But those who feel at home there make up a devoted client base that hasn’t been hesitant to recommend it to their friends. Danburry’s business has roughly tripled since he opened two years ago, he said, and it’s happened without any advertising. The clients are largely young men, including lots of students from Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University, but it also includes businessmen getting their hair cut while on a lunch break from nearby offices such as Nu Skin and Wells Fargo and out-of-towners who discover the shop through online searches.
“When I was doing music and traveling and meeting people all over, I loved getting a different perspective and hearing different people’s stories,” Danburry said. “Now people come to me rather than me having to go to them.”
The Danburry Barber Shop is located at 55 N. University Ave., Ste. 145 in Provo. Check it out at danburrybarber.blogspot.com.