Master barber brings new attitude to traditional shop climate
PARKERSBURG — Keith Jeffrey is a barber. The day slows down and he has a seat in one of the two chairs at his Pike Street shop.
The sign on the window says “Modern Barber Shop.”
“That’s changing soon,” he says with a smile. “It’s going to read ‘THE Barber Shop.'”
Jeffrey is a master barber. He’s earned the title after 14 months of work and 2,000 hours of cutting hair at the Charleston School of Beauty Culture.
“I can do salon work and color women’s hair,” he said. “That’s how I got the title of master barber.”
He got his license in 2004. He’s in his mid-30s now. The shop was his Jan. 8th.
There’s an edge to Jeffrey, a sharp one. He doesn’t wear a hair smock. This day he wears his bright red high top leather sneakers. The jeans are shredded; his black shirt with white and gray ink has a barber shop scene with a skeleton dressed as a barber giving a haircut to a customer with a tightly cropped beard with a fade on the sides and a tattoo on the neck. At the bottom and across his back are two words “Fresh Cut.” Attitude.
Jeffrey is a muscular guy. Tattoos cover his arms and disappear at the edge of the sleeves of his shirt. They pop out of the neck of his shirt and stars make their way up the left side of his face, directly in front of his ear. They stop at the hairline.
His haircut is tight. The lines are sharp. His left forearm bears a barber’s straight razor with the words ‘hair slinger.’ The idea, he said, came from a Charleston tattoo artist who had one labeled ‘ink slinger.’
“The idea for that tattoo didn’t take long,” he says and laughs.
The inside of the forearm has a barber pole surrounded by dollar signs. There’s a semi-sort of tattoo of the now defunct Houston Oilers on an arm. A leftover from time he had spent in Houston.
It doesn’t take long before Jeffrey finds his shop filling up. Young and old. Jeffrey hears a door slam shut and he peeks through the blinds to see who is coming through the door. He keeps the blinds closed as the majority of the day, the sunlight pours through the big window.
The day before Jeffrey was ‘fixing’ haircuts of teenaged boys who had gotten their hair cut elsewhere. They weren’t happy. Their choice words in describing the haircuts was enough to prove that. Jeffrey grabs one of the nine sets of clippers he has and goes at it. Both want the cuts fixed and to them that meant ‘take it near the scalp and we’ll start over.’
Jeffrey is more than happy to set out following orders. He changes clippers numerous times as he changes the scowls to smiles. Two new coming back again customers.
The shop is Jeffrey’s first of his own although he has been cutting hair in Parkersburg for a while.
“As a barber, you do good work and the customers will follow you. I’ve been fortunate a lot of mine have done that.” Jeffrey added he inherited a lot of customers from the barber who had the shop before him, Cam Garvin. “They would come in and say they were glad to see the pole turning again.
“And it’s like the neighborhood barber shop for a lot of the men,” he continued. “It was a gathering place for them. They would come in and visit with friends they had made while getting their hair cut. It wasn’t so much the barber, as it was for them to visit with friends they may only see here.”
There is a picture of an older gentleman taped to the mirror behind Jeffrey’s chair. The picture is of his grandfather, Butch Oldaker.
“We had a dream I was going to have my own shop one day,” Jeffrey said.
“He bought chairs and equipment and we were going to make it happen. He didn’t live to see this but he’s always here with me,” he said as his clinched fist thumped his chest near his heart several times.
“All the days and hours I’ve worked hard for this is paying off,” he said as he swiveled his head as he looked around the small shop.
Jeffrey accepts appointments for Thursdays only. Monday-Wednesday, Friday and Saturday are walk-in days. His hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily, but stays open to 8 p.m. Wednesday and Friday.
“There’s not a whole lot of down time,” Jeffrey said. “There’s not a lot of time to sit in the chair and read the paper. It’s a lot like when I started cutting hair in Charleston. We did work with the homeless shelters. You didn’t sit and you didn’t have a lot of time for lunch but you learned to cut hair well. And here I am now with my own shop. How about that?”