1. Flubs, Gaffes, and Blunders

Could Have Been Worse… Could Have Been Sweeney Todd

Sweeney_todd There are some businesses that will never migrate online, fortunately for their practitioners, but unfortunately at times for their customers (okay, me). Consider barbershops and hair salons, for example.

I tried going to my usual place, a hole in the wall on 17th Street. The first time I went there, the barber said to me, "You’re getting the most *@$&ed up $10 haircut in the city." I said, "Great, cause last time I got the most *@$&ed up $15 haircut in the city, so I’m better off going to you." It was a decent haircut, it was cheap, I could go during lunch, and I returned often.

I then switched offices as well as barbers, but in returning to work in the area, I went back a month or two ago and a kindly woman gave me a haircut that could, at best, be lovingly described as uneven.

Finding myself in need of a pre-vacation trim (okay, my better half is strongly encouraging it), I attempted to return, but the only person available was the woman I had last time so I faked receiving a call and ducked out.

Then I tried a ritzy place a couple blocks away, Dramatics NYC, where I went a few years back on the recommendation of a friend, had my hair cut by a woman named "Tiger," and paid a relative fortune for a cut ($30 with tip). They took me pretty quickly, but maybe they were in too much of a rush. The woman who shampooed my hair got water all over my shirt, and I decided to pass on the cut rather than sit there sopping. They offered to dry my shirt and provide me with a robe, but a haircut is a transaction of trust, and if I can’t trust someone to wash my hair, there’s no way I can trust them to cut it. The washing part is almost impossible to screw up.

That being said, there are other barbers (time to check local search services), and losing me as a customer won’t matter much for them. Short of a massive resurgence of hippie culture where everyone lets their hair grow indefinitely, I’d imagine barber/stylist:customer ratios stay fairly consistent overall, even if prices may fluctuate and tastes shift in terms of whether customers prefer places that are more trendy or traditional.

It’s a better business than being a travel agent… but more on them another time. I’ll wait until the trip’s done first.

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  • Avatar
    June 7, 2006

    Go see Sal at Astor Hair. He’s off Tuesday’s. Haircut is something like $13 bucks plus tip and he hasn’t done me wrong in the four years I’ve been going.


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