Business Spotlight: Well Kept Barbershop
Address: 30-11 32nd St, Astoria, NY 11102
Open Since: September 2018
I was told to visit Well Kept Barbershop. One of my friends and babysitters raved about the place. After a variety of bad experiences getting her son cuts at both adult and children’s salons, she had finally found a location that would cut his hair willingly, patiently, and without stress.
When I walked into the shop, the first thing I thought was that it was somewhere I would bring my own son to get a haircut. “We don’t have loud music. We don’t use curse words. It’s important to us that we’re family-friendly.” The two owners, Luis and Ruben, told me more: Both of them are fathers. Luis has two children, 5 and 3, and Ruben has a 7-month old.
They understand UP-STAND’s mission. In explaining why they chose to open Well Kept in Astoria, they said they knew the neighborhood to be a family-oriented place (Ruben grew up here, Luis nearby in Jackson Heights); they had seen it change so much over the last 10-20 years, and they wanted to be a part of that evolution.
When I asked them about cutting children’s hair, they were enthusiastic. “We’ll never turn down a kid. That person can be a client for life, you can watch them grow up. I’ve seen little kids go on to prom, to graduate,” said Luis, who has been cutting hair for 15 years. “We do what we can,” Ruben added, “even if a child is kicking and screaming, we have patience. We take our time with them.”
“We ALL take kids,” Luis told me, meaning that every single one of their barbers will cut children’s hair. This is rare (and what a great way to reduce the wait time, right!?).
So I asked them, what exactly do they do to intentionally cater to children and families?
“Lollipops always work for fussy kids,” Ruben said, smiling. He showed me the kids’ capes that they use, brightly colored coverings that also have a clear front panel to allow for screen time in a child’s lap if a parent so desires. They offer complimentary coffee, tea, and water in the large waiting area where strollers and luggage can be placed easily. They described being surprised when a mother once expected she’d have to leave her stroller outside the shop based upon her experiences with other 30th Avenue businesses. “What if a dog goes to the bathroom on it when passing by? What if someone steals something from it? We told her to bring it inside.”
Alanna, one of the barbers, walked me through some of her techniques to make sure children are comfortable. For a young autistic client, she went through each of the tools and let him choose which one he liked best in terms of sound. She uses the same clippers for him each time. She’ll let children help spray the products she uses, and count with kids to prepare them for different stages of the cut. She figures out what her clients like, and does what’s familiar.
“We let them hold the tools first, let them comb their own hair,” Luis said. They have a Little Man special for $20 for children under 12, and they’re considering specials for brothers coming in together. And he explains, “If a father and son come in together, we’ll have the father go first to show the son that it’s okay.”
They’re offering the perfect opportunity to try it out. Their standard price list includes a Father & Son Combo of $5 off for a duo (child under 12), and Well Kept is running a special this week for Father’s Day: 20% off through the 16th, for online reservations or walk-ins.
We suggest you go push that stroller right in, right now!