Contrary to what overeager holiday decorators might think, the new red and white striped pole spotted at 2100 Avy Ave. in West Menlo Park is not a premature candy cane, but is, in fact, a permanent fixture signaling Menlo Park's newest barber shop.
The Menlo Park Barber Shop, which opened Nov. 3, has three veteran barbers from Golden Shears, the 52-year-old barbershop in downtown Menlo Park. Owner Sam Valero, worked at the Golden Shears for 14 years, Woody Jackson spent seven years there, and Yvonne Soliz worked there for 25 years.
For years, Mr. Valero had dreamed of owning a barber shop. "I wanted to provide the town a place that has a mix of modern and vintage barbering," he said.
Between five and six weeks ago, he decided the time was right to start his own. After he mentioned the idea to Mike Gardner, one of his longtime customers, Mr. Gardner decided he would step in as a volunteer project manager. As a real estate manager, Mr. Gardner had all the right connections, Mr. Valero said, and soon helped him find the location. They have been working night and day to ready the shop for customers.
The location of the shop at 2100 Avy Ave. near Alameda de las Pulgas, was good, Mr. Valero said, because it was outside the boundaries of what he called the "high cost of doing business" in downtown Menlo Park. This site, he added, would have free unlimited parking, creating a more relaxed experience for customers. The location is also near Starbucks and across the street from the Dutch Goose, and closer to the "folks on Sand Hill Road" and many of the barbers' existing customers. The site was formerly the location of Express Cleaners, a dry cleaning business.
The "modern" amenities the barber shop will offer include two TVs, mounted on opposite corners of the shop, ideal for watching sports, Mr. Valero said. IPads will also be available for customers, especially kids, to use while their hair is being cut. Barber services will be targeted toward men and children.
However, the barber shop will also retain "old-fashioned" attention to quality over speed, Mr. Valero said, with all the trappings of traditional barber treatment, complete with straight razors, talc and aftershave. Despite the added technology inside, Mr. Valero said, the chairs will be arranged in two rows, designed to facilitate conversation throughout the barber shop.
Mr. Valero and his colleague, Woody Jackson, both grew up in Strathmore, California, a town of approximately 2,800 people in California's Central Valley, where they were both the children of field workers and attended the same high school. Each influenced the other to get into the barbering business.
"We went from the valley of fruit to the valley of silicon," said Mr. Valero.
Their transition from living in a town that relied little on technology to living in one of the "world's most influential" areas for technology, he said, was an adjustment, even as a barber, but he added that neither he nor Mr. Jackson has forgotten the value of a "small town" neighborhood atmosphere, which they plan to foster within the shop.
"This will be a place where all are welcome, a place where young children will build fond memories, a place that will faithfully serve the community for many years to come," said Mr. Jackson.
The first scheduled customers of the shop will be Mike Gardner and the barbers' colleague, Wayne Slocum, who worked at the Golden Shears for more than 40 years.
Bidding goodbye to the Golden Shears to begin work at the Menlo Park Barber Shop is bittersweet but exciting, Mr. Valero said. "It's hard to leave it for all of us," he said. "It's a tough decision, but it's the right decision at the right time."
Menlo Park Barber Shop at 2100 Avy Ave. will be open Tuesday through Saturday, from mid-morning to late evening. Call (650) 391-9008. Mr. Valero is seeking to add barbers. Call him at (650) 485-2001.