Thursday 25 June 2009

Barbers’ Wars

Richmond is a funny old place – a place where a pint of lager will cost £4.20, or the price of an Asda frozen turkey, and where having your hair cut can cost you only £4.00. But only in credit-crunch, homo-homini-lupus times.

There’s this honest chap round the corner from where I live. He’s a foreigner. Let’s say he’s Swedish – although he’s not. Well, this Swede opened a tiny barber shop two or three years ago, from the back of a larger ladies-only hairdresser. This hairdresser was empty most of the time, except on Saturdays, when hords of candy-floss-haired dames descend from their dens on the hill. The Swede’s barber shop thrived: over time, he renovated it and even hired a couple more Swedish hair-stylists.

Then his lease comes up for renewal, and he realizes he's paying over the odds. He tells the hairdresser, from whom he’s renting the place, that he can get five times the square footage he’s got now for half the price just round the corner from where he is, and in a better location. So he gives the hairdresser his notice. The hairdresser goes potty, and advertises on the shop windows: MEN’S HAIRCUTS £5.00 (the Swede was charging £10.00).

The Swedish barber moves into the new place round the corner, but he still has the use of the older place until the end of the month, so he advertises MEN’S HAIRCUTS £4.00. Obviously, a lot of guys have had their hair cut at both places over the last few days.

But why did I mention this? For two reasons – the first is that this is a good time to have long hair in Richmond, and the second is that the same wars were waged between the local butchers, greengrocers and booksellers against the overpowering supermarkets over the last twenty or thirty years. Without any regulation, the result will be the same: no one will be making money, and the barber will have to close down his shop and go back to Sweden.


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