For the longest time in Richmond, there were only a handful of less-than-ideal places for a guy to get his hair cut. Sure, there were some barbershops that did a decent job, but they’re the kind of places you don’t want to spend any longer in than you have to. Alternately, you could go to a woman’s hair salon, but that often feels a bit strange. Needless to say, there was a void in the market: a contemporary place you could go get a haircut, hang out and shoot the shit. So when I heard that Elliott Kinney, David Foster and Jacky Flav were opening a shop and cutting hair together, I was stoked.
I’ve gotten to know the three barbers over the past year or so. They’re active members of the community, and it isn’t uncommon to run into them around town. I first met Elliott when he was decked out in 1920’s gear at an event for the Virginia Art Deco Society. David and I go to the same gym. I used to run into Jacky when he was operating a chair out of Shockoe Denim earlier this year. We run in the same circles and share several mutual friends. Too often with barbers, they cut your hair and that’s the end of it. With these guys, they’re more than that to me; I consider them friends.
The shop, High Point Barbershop & Shave Parlor, is located right in the heart of the Fan neighborhood. Before it opened, they received an amount of enthusiasm from the community that’s rarely achieved. The three kept all of Richmond up-to-date on Instagram and we followed along.
I finally had the opportunity to check out the space last week, and it is perfectly dialed in. There’s an old-school vibe, but one that doesn’t feel like an antique shop or a corny living museum. The vibe is classic, but with a noticeable edge. When I complimented the space, Elliott told me that they tried to work with as many people from Richmond as possible.
A local firm, Campfire & Co. designed the space. The individual barber stations were built by one of their clients, Josh Bruce. Ross Trimmer of Sure Hand Signs did all the signage. Andrew Carnwath from The Odd Couple Shop curated the waiting chairs and rug. Lastly, Drew Spruill from Yesterday’s Heroes Vintage supplied a few items for the shop’s decor. Not only did they work with local Richmonders, but they did so in an intentional way. The level of care and attention to detail that was given to the space is remarkable and pays off in a powerful way.
The barbers were especially excited about a couple of the barber chairs, coat rack, and barber’s pole, which originally belonged to Ward’s Corner Barbershop in Norfolk, VA. When Ward’s was demolished to make room for a Harris Teeter grocery store, all the gear was put in a storage locker for years. They were forgotten about, recently rediscovered and delivered to High Point just in time for the opening. The guys also went as far away as West Virginia to source some of the other chairs and vintage barber gear.
A trip to the barbershop is as much about getting a haircut, as it is the experience. You’re thrown right in the thick of it and you have the opportunity to get into some good conversation. Elliott said it best: “The main difference between a barber shop and a salon is that you get to talk to everyone. In a salon, they make you stay in the waiting area until your appointment. They don’t let you talk to the barbers. Here, you get to come in, talk to the barbers and everyone else who happens to be here at that time.” The guys keep the atmosphere light. When I went, they were egging someone on about trying denim-on-denim and dishing out advice for dating rich girls.
But in the end, the shop is here for cutting hair, and the crew is delivering some of the best cuts in the city. Whether they are high-and-tights, pompadours or slick backs. They aren’t limited to traditional cuts, but those happen to be what’s in. If you’re looking for something different, the guys love a good challenge.
There are a few components of the shop that could easily be taken for granted. The magazine stack includes Monocle, Thrasher, The Surfer’s Journal, and a glossy magazine about American barbershop culture from Japan. The music blasting through the speakers are songs that you actually want to hear. The playlists cover everything from Nirvana to Mos Def. Pearl Jam to Desmond Decker. And there isn’t a TV playing 9-hours of SportsCenter or a pool table to mention. High Point is intended to be a barbershop, not a man cave. Although Elliott admitted that they will have to figure out a TV situation before the next World Cup rolls around.
A diverse group of people stopped by during the time that I was there, ranging from businessmen to bikers, a mix of young and old, and friends as well as strangers. It speaks to the diversity of their clientele as well as the makeup of the neighborhood, and that’s the ultimate goal of the shop: to serve their neighborhood and be embedded within the community.
It’s inspiring to see the dedication that the team is putting into their business and the city. It’s easy to stand behind a group of people with that level work ethic, attitude and authenticity. High Point is still young, but it feels like they will be incredibly successful. I’m looking forward to watching them take off.
High Point Barbershop & Shave Parlor is located at 112 North Meadow Street. Visit their website to learn more about the barbershop and to book an appointment.