I suspect that for many men, like me, a haircut is a
necessary chore, not something to look forward to. Get in, pay as little as possible for a
decent cut, and be on your way. That was
until I visited the Crewcuts shop at 209 E. Main in Salem.
Tracy Crouch, owner and proprietor of Crewcuts, showed me
what a real haircut experience could be.
After I admired the shop, with its real hardwood flooring and weathered
brick walls, the sheet metal sculptures created by Tracy’s husband Andy, the
windmill chandelier, the nose of the old Chevy truck on one wall, the shoeshine
stand in the front, and all of the other nice touches, Tracy guided me to one
of the three antique barber chairs where she and her staff work their magic.
It started normally enough, with chitchat and the snip of
scissors. I learned that Tracy and Andy
owned the building and that Tracy hoped to turn the shop into a real
old-fashioned full service barbershop.
What is needed is for Tracy and her staff to earn Barbers licenses,
which are different from the Cosmetology licenses they now have. “A barber’s license lets you do cool stuff
like shave customers the old fashioned way,” Tracy said. “With a straight
razor.” Kaskaskia College plans to offer
a Barbering Certificate starting in the summer of 2015, pending state approval.
As it is, Crewcuts is unique to the area, which abounds with
ladies’ salon services, but none that cater especially to a male clientele. Tracy did her homework to find a niche that
has not been filled, and Crewcuts is the result. Tracy offers a number of services to her
customers, including manicures with a soak to remove embedded dirt and oil and
soften the skin, facial hair care, waxing, coloring, and tinting, all on a
walk-in basis. Her focus is not in
selling as many of these services as possible; she is concerned with giving
each customer a positive experience. For
example, after a trim with scissors and clippers, I enjoyed a hot towel before
the shaving of the back of my neck and around my ears and eyebrows. After the haircut, Tracy washed my hair twice
to remove itchy trimmings, blow dried my hair, and applied a small amount of
product. She finished with a dusting of
All I had expected was a haircut, priced at $15 on the
chalkboard. What I got was full-service
treatment at no extra charge. “We offer
these as complimentary services to our clients,” Tracy said. With an introductory discount, the haircut
cost $12, very competitive with any other shop or salon. It is no wonder she draws clients from as far
away as Carlyle and Mt. Vernon.
Tracy and her staff are graduates of the Kaskaskia College
Cosmetology program, and Steve Groner of the Small Business Development Center
was instrumental in helping her set up shop.
“The KC Cosmetology program includes instruction on operating your own
business,” Tracy said. “And Steve Groner
was very helpful in making sure we saw things realistically.” With a solid business plan in hand, Tracy
was able to get the financing she needed, and Crewcuts has now been open since
Tracy has a Bachelors degree in Health Care Management from
SIU Carbondale, but decided to open her own shop for a number of reasons. “I have always wanted to be in business for
myself, and with a growing family I wanted flexibility in my schedule. Plus, I am creative and love to work with my
hands.” Tracy’s grandmother, who owned a
beauty shop in the Mount Vernon area, babysat her as a child, and Tracy watched
her work with clients. These memories helped
Tracy decide to go to Cosmetology school, and KC was the best choice.
April Denton of Kell, a stylist at Crewcuts, agreed. “The instructors at KC were extremely
helpful,” she said. “They would give
their eye teeth to make sure the students succeed.” Tracy, April, and Charissa Meadows, who also
works at the shop, shared pleasant memories of Chris Browne’s perm classes,
Kelli Malone’s enthusiasm, and the positivity and encouragement they received
from all of the faculty, especially Murlen Garner. “Mr. Murlen,” they agreed, was wonderful.
I walked into Crewcuts expecting just another haircut, but I
came out feeling refreshed and enthusiastic.
They say men are creatures of habit; my new habit will be to visit
Crewcuts when the time comes for a trim.
Maybe I’ll even try a manicure next time.