Give that special man in your life a special gift this Fathers Day by giving him a gift certificate for a shop that offers much more than just a shave and a After Shave Barber Shop in Okemos offers an experience he’ll remember for a long time. Owned and operated by Rick and Nick Brown, a father and son team who joined forces more than four years ago, After Shave provides “old world services with a new age look,” Nick explained. Both he and his dad are certified barbers who use an age old tool — a straight razor to shave their clients’ faces and necklines. While getting a cut, customers can watch current sports shows airing on a couple of flat screen TVs mounted on the shop’s walls. Sprinkled throughout is memorabilia displaying Nick and Rick’s areas of interest. “It’s sports meets hunting meets the military,” Nick said. “It’s a man cave” for customers – men and boys of all ages. A military man himself, Nick served in the Marine Corps for eight years – five years in active duty and three in the reserves. When he was on leave a few years back, he approached his dad with the idea of running a business together. “Wouldn’t it be fun,” he told Rick, “to hang out and run a father–son shop of some kind?” He left Rick to mull this over. “Fifteen days passed, I returned to Arizona to serve my last 16 months of duty helping patrol the border,” Nick said. “I had no other job prospects.” He was in flight school and considering becoming a commercial pilot, but the idea of working with his dad, with whom he was very close, kept resurfacing. So he called his dad and asked if he would consider opening a barber shop with him. Rick replied that he’d call back in two hours. When Rick called back, he told his son that he had just applied for retirement and After Shave Barber Shop was born. A few months later, they had completed barber school, and armed with barber licenses, they found a perfect location at the corner of Jolly and Okemos roads, collected memorabilia to decorate the shop from silent auctions throughout the state and opened their shop for business. They never looked back. They took out ads, “bombarding” local radio and TV stations and regional newspapers, Nick said. Today, word-of- mouth keeps them busy, and Rick and Nick will soon hire a barber or two to help them keep up with the demand. March 9, 2014 marked their four year anniversary. The shop owners are grateful for the community support. In turn, they are “big on giving back to the community,” Nick said. They sponsor sporting, drama and other events hosted by local schools. They also support small businesses in the area and buy locally whenever possible. For special occasions, such as a Groom’s Big Day – when the shop offers grooms and the men in their wedding party hair cut appointments and refreshments – they buy donuts and juice from the local Quality Dairy and coffee and bagels from Biggby. Groom’s Big Day appointments have become very popular. Last July, they had their biggest day with three groups of grooms and their fathers and friends scheduling appointments to help them get ready for the big day. You could say that every day is a special day for After Shave customers. Father and son take good care of their clients, sometimes finding themselves being psychologists in addition to barbers. “Hair cutting is probably only 20 percent of what we do,” Nick said. Listening and relating to their clients makes up the rest. From the looks of it, it appears that Rick and Nick Brown are succeeding in what they envisioned when they first discussed co–owning a business. “We just went with it,” said Nick. “We knew we were going to make it work at all costs.” And they’ve gotten along well. “We never bicker because we both have the same vision for the shop,” Nick said. After Shave Barber Shop 2317 Jolly Road, Okemos (517) 347-0870
Ann Cool, MPS, is a freelance writer who lives in Mason with her husband Bob.