Barbershops of America - Central Barbershop

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Barbershops of America is a beautifully curated coffee table book and a photographic essay by a good friend of ours, Rob Hammer.

In creating the essay, Rob spent the better part of three years on the road visiting all 50 states of America in search of old barbershops that represent their place in history. During that time he traveled over 50,000 miles and visited roughly 750 barbershops. Only 75 of the best made it to the book.

You might recall when we first celebrated what Rob put together. We thought it was time to open the book once again to shine light on some of the best in the industry.

Central Barbershop - Woodstock, Virginia

America is an enormous place that varies greatly region to region and state to state. That not only goes for the geography but also for the interests, attitude, lifestyle, and demeanor of the local people in each state.

Virginia, like every other state, has a way about it. And there’s no better way to get a feeling for that way than to spend some time in a local barbershop.

At Central in Woodstock, the conversations are all geared towards hunting. As one customer said to me, “If it moves, we hunt it”.

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Louis is the owner of Central Barbershop, but you won’t hear a lot of talking from him. He’s a quiet guy that doesn’t feel the need to say much. Prefers to take care of his customers while simply taking in the conversation. A hometown boy that was literally born two blocks from the Barbershop he’s been in for 58 years.

I spoke with Louis recently, which is to say that I spoke while he mostly listened. He was sitting on the front porch of his home that rests on a 25 acres plot of land.

In San Diego where I live, you’re lucky to have 25 feet between your house and the neighbour. It was very obvious during our conversation that we almost live on different planets. The subject of hunting came up and he remarked about the groundhog he shot that morning while standing in his kitchen. “What are you gonna do with it?”, I asked. He replied, “feed it to the buzzards”.

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Shoot a gun from your kitchen in Southern California and you’re spending more than a couple nights in jail. I could hear all the ambient noise in the background which sounded very relaxing. Like he was sitting in the middle of a forest.

You could almost mistake it for one of those soothing sleep soundtracks of birds chirping and wind blowing through the trees.

When asked questions about his life and career, it was obvious that he never contemplated such things. As he said at one point, “I was born to be a barber, I guess?” Being a barber is just what he does. It doesn’t require any thought, and he would probably prefer not to think about it.

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Life in Woodstock, Virginia goes on at its own pace. Everything about Louis also moves at the same pace. And that’s not a knock, rather a compliment. I wouldn’t want to live in Virginia but am almost jealous of the things that people like Louis don’t need to think about.

There are no congested freeways or an overabundance of people whose lives revolve around their status and how they appear to others. There is no need for the constant grind of ensuring that you’re making more money than the next guy.

Every day Louis goes to work and spends time with good people who are only concerned with how they can make the most of each other’s company. Then he walks two blocks to his house, sits in a rocking chair on the front porch, and soaks in the quiet.

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Barbershops of America - Central Barbershop from Uppercut Deluxe on Vimeo.

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