The building at 3913 6th St. South has been on the tax role in St. Petersburg since about 1909. We believe that the simple frame structure of about eight hundred square feet was originally constructed to serve as a fishing lodge. Around 1920 or so some duplexes were built on the same property. They served as cottages for the fishermen who would go out and try their luck on the bayou.
Over the course of time the building served as a restaurant, lawn mower repair, martial arts school, and a beauty salon before Melvin Hannah opened All Cutz Barbershop thirteen years ago this past January.
The white barber shop photo was taken in July of 2013. It was painted bright yellow orange by September of the same year. It remained in that paint until ownership of the property changed in Spring of 2017. The shop was repainted to soft grey and white in September of 2017.
Its existence has run its course. It will soon be demolished and in spite of the fact that we have had to relocate to a shop with less than half of the space we had we’re not shedding any tears. If you visit our new shop you’ll understand why.
The old building was configured in a way that didn’t make good use of the space and the age of the structure brought with it a host of other problems. It was built long before building codes and air conditioning existed. Parts of the wiring were … “questionable.” The threshold of the front door was collapsing because it was never really made to hold the weight of a metal framed commercial door. The list goes on but you get the point.
Our new digs are at 3917 6th Street South, exactly one door south of the old shop, in one of the duplexes that has been converted from living space to a sharp, new, clean, efficient barbershop. I have been part of moving business locations on three different occasions. It’s always better at the new place. It always takes longer than you plan, and it’s always clunky on day one of the new operation. Our move was no exception but we didn’t lose a single dollar of business.
We closed business at the old shop at our normal time on Tuesday, February 20th at 6:00 PM. We moved on our normal day off and then opened on Thursday, February 22nd just like normal. Yeah, right!
We felt like fish out of water. Smaller surroundings, tighter chair placement, no hot water, leaking sinks, and workstations that were completely different all added up to an interesting first day. By mid afternoon the next day our new barber chairs arrived. These are BARBER CHAIRS. They weigh more than half again as much as our old ones. Tipping the scales at 250 lbs they aren’t exactly easy to move and it took us several attempts over the next week to get it right. They’re the real deal. Heavy padding that doesn’t bottom out even for a big guy, polished solid steel frames, fully reclining, beautifully stitched rich red upholstery, solid hydraulics, and here’s a novelty; made in the U.S.A.
You see, what we did was expand the concept of what you can expect when you come into our barbershop. We have a shampoo sink at every chair so that our patrons can get a haircut, a hot towel shave, and a shampoo without ever having to get up. As far as we know we’re the only shop that does that. However rough you look when you walk in you can walk out like you’re ready to go out on the town.
The cozier surroundings did mean that we had to make some hard choices. One was that we decided to let go of nail services in lieu of adding a couple more barber stations. We still believe in the concept and we know how to make it work but we just aren’t laid out for it. After three years it was clear that we weren’t appealing to the ladies, and there just weren’t enough guys interested in it to keep a nail tech busy. We also left behind our display cabinets which we decided to sell along with our old chairs, cabinets, with countertops, and work stations, enough equipment to start another barbershop. Incidentally the whole lot of used equipment is all still serviceable and priced at $3400
This shift has also made it clear that we’re in tune with who our clients are and what they want. Our clients are generally guys between the ages of 35 on up, or younger men that appreciate a more wholesome atmosphere. Our cleaner more upscale shop is exactly the right move in an area that is regentrifying and everyone who comes in is pleased with it.
When we were deciding on the layout we discussed the physical part of it of course; where to put the barber chairs, office space, bathroom door, etc. We also took into account the culture of the shop.
Barbershops have long been places where men come to converse and have a few laughs. Guys care as much about the barbershop they visit as they do about the barber who gives them the service. The culture inside the shop is an important intangible. Unfortunately it can get overlooked. This seems particularly true in the big franchise shops where the waiting area is completely cut off. We deliberately situated the waiting area adjacent to, and facing the barbers and it works great. There’s plenty of lively cross talk and that adds to the richness of the visit. It also makes it possible for guys to make connections and form relationships they may otherwise miss. That gets lost in shops where the waiting area is separated.
Well, we’re settling in to our new surroundings. We’re finding new places to put things, new ways of doing things, and making final decisions on what we need in the new shop and what we should leave behind. This week will mark the complete finish of the transition. That might seem a bit strange but we have had the rather unique situation of having the old shop serve as a “mother ship” of sorts, running back and forth and moving the little stuff in a bit at a time as needed.
The old shop has birthed a new one. When we lock the door to leave it for the last time it will pass and soon be no more but there will always be a piece of it in the new shop. It’s only right. After all, no matter how bright the future is, no matter how successful we become it’s only fitting that we render due honor and remember where we started.