A new trend has some Harlem barbershops on the move and is helping owners lower costs to stay afloat.
Rupert Cummings goes by the name Myke the Hairline Doctor, specializes in restoring his client’s hairlines and providing expert service.
“I operate my business as a judgment free zone. We have real good conversation, positive conversation,” said Cummings, aka Myke, the co-owner of Barber Metrix.
He and his wife Domina have been operating a new style of barbershop on wheels.
“I used to work in a barbershop with a lot of people, a lot of coworkers. I didn’t feel safe working in that environment when Corona hit, so me and Domina, my business parter, we got creative and came up with this concept,” said Myke.
For the past seven months, they’ve worked from a jitney bus parked at W 125 Street and St. Nicholas Avenue.
“When we got the vehicle we had to take out rows of chairs that was in here because it was rows of seats, you know, this was like a church bus,” said Myke.
After months of renovating the floors and installing seats for clients, they hit the ground running last Christmas Eve.
“The first couple of days that we actually opened it was a little nerve-racking,” said Domina Lazaro, co-owner of Barber Metrix. “We weren’t sure how people were going to take our business. After the first couple of weeks, we started to see the clients come in. We got so many more walk-ins than the last place he was cutting hair at.”
The couple joins other mobile barbershops popping up throughout Harlem. Linwood Dillard is known as Da Barber Godd and claims he’s the first mobile barbershop in the neighborhood.
Many owners admit these mobile shops are most importantly about ownership.
“It’s about building generational wealth. It’s about changing the dynamics for yourself and you can’t do that inside of a storefront because, again, if you don’t own the building you don’t own the business,” said Dillard, the owner of Harlem’s first mobil barbershop.
According to the Harlem Business Alliance, many entrepreneurs are finding it difficult to rent storefronts, with some considering moving out of state to cities such as Atlanta for better deals. Linwood said he was priced out of his Harlem storefront.
“My chair was right there. You’d come through the door right here and that was it. The guy who own it also owns this restaurant across the street. Cool guy, but I just didn’t have $10,000 dollars to pay,” said Linwood.
For new owners Myke and Domnia, the mobile shop business is an adjustment, but one they admit the community has fully embraced.
“It’s all good vibes, you know, once you have that positive aura, sky is the limit in terms of what you can accomplish and the relationships you can build,” said Myke.