New trends in fashion and beauty can often leave some classic institutions and traditions in the dust. Trends in business can do the same, but often have an even more devastating impact on tradition. In the case of barbershops, some businesses have the attitude that the more customers served the more successful the venture. They pump out endless lines of customers at low prices but with a barbershop experience that may leave something to be desired.
Now usually, this kind of change is spearheaded by young people with little respect for old traditions. However, in the case of William Brown of Philadelphia, the new kid on the block is preserving tradition and carrying it into the modern age. Brown’s father and his grandfather both owned barbershops, and as a kid brown swept the floors starting from the age of 12.
10 years ago, Brown finished his own licensing as a professional barber and started working in Philadelphia shops. He was recruited by the Art of Shaving and became a master barber working there. He saved up tips and took out a loan to open his own shop in 2009, Duke Barber Co.
Now, 6 years later, he’s opening a second business in the Chestnut Hill neighborhood to fill the gap left by the death of a friend of his father’s Frank Salemno. Salemno operated a shop in Chestnut Hill for 71 years, and preserving Salemno’s legacy and the legacy of Brown’s family is the ultimate goal of Duke Barber Co.
“We have classic traditions of a barbershop in a modern setting.” Brown said, “If they want old-school haircuts, we do that. If they want a straight-razor shave with hot towel and lather on the face, we do that. We want you to feel like you are with an old friend when you are here.”