Barber brings help to the housebound with Haircuts on Wheels Loyal following praises his work ELLICOTT CITY/ELKRIDGE

January 25, 1993|By Larry Sturgill | Larry Sturgill,Contributing Writer

Ellicott City barber Rick Goggin has decided to take his work on the road, offering Haircuts on Wheels to people who have difficulty getting to a hair salon because of an injury or illness.

Haircuts On Wheels is an unconventional idea, and Mr. Goggin isn't exactly conventional. When people meet the slim barber for the first time, they look at his waist-length ponytail and his casual attire and immediately assume he is a rock musician or an aging hippie unwilling to let go of the past.

And they aren't completely wrong on either count. Mr. Goggin is a dedicated born-again Christian who has been playing and composing Christian rock music for many years.

He often performs in his church and is a regular visitor to the Patuxent Institution in Jessup, where he performs his music and counsels inmates.

As for his skills as a barber, the personable 39-year-old is a master of his trade. He has been cutting and styling hair in Howard County salons for 16 years. In that time, he has developed a loyal following of male and female clients.

Mr. Goggin offers a simple reason for the loyalty of his customers, who often follow him from one salon to another: "I give them what they ask for, but I also highlight their cut with a few personal touches."

Laurel resident Phil Sinclair, a longtime friend and customer, offers another reason: "Rick makes you want to come back. It's his personality -- he genuinely likes people. He could be the worst barber in the world, and people would still come back for more."

Last spring, Mr. Goggin fulfilled a longtime dream, opening his own shop on Main Street in Laurel. A week after he opened his doors for business, however, he was involved in an automobile accident that left him with back and neck injuries.

As a result of the injury and months of subsequent treatment, Mr. Goggin was forced to close his shop. "I tried to keep it going," he says, "but I never really had the chance to make it work."

The experience didn't leave him bitter, though. Mr. Goggin says his religious faith helped him through a very difficult time. And it was while he was recuperating that he decided to start Haircuts On Wheels.

"The idea had been in my head for a few years," he says. "I have a neighbor who is partially bedridden. Because she is my friend and longtime neighbor, I do her hair in her home. I realized there must be lots of other people who, because of injury or bad health, can't get out."

After he recovered, Mr. Goggin proceeded with his idea. To comply with state regulations covering barbers, he had to operate Haircuts On Wheels under the auspices of a licensed salon.

To solve that problem, he turned to old friend and fellow barber Ray Warfield, who, with his wife, Chrissy, operates Warfield's Barber Styling Salon in Watermont Plaza.

"About 10 years ago, Ray and I worked together at a barbershop in Columbia," Mr. Goggin recalls. "We kept in touch over the years. Several years ago, he opened his own shop. When I dropped by to tell him about my idea, not only did Ray like the concept and agree to work Haircuts On Wheels through his shop, he also asked me to come to work in his salon. I realized it was the optimal situation for me, so I jumped at the opportunity. Ray and his wife are really good people."

Haircuts on Wheels has a growing list of in-home customers, even without advertising.

One of the first in-home customers was Kings Contrivance resident Doris McLeod, whose illness and growing dependence upon an oxygen tank made getting out of the house increasingly difficult.

Recalling a recent visit Mr. Goggin made on short notice, Mrs. McLeod says, "I was taking a trip and at the last minute decided I wanted to have my hair done. I called Rick. He didn't have to come over, but he did."

Mr. Goggin has become a friend, she says. "He is truly a unique person, totally open and honest, and I like him because of that."

Mr. Goggin says he might approach senior citizen centers and offer an in-house hairstyling service for residents who can't get out.

To arrange an in-home appointment with Rick Goggin's Haircuts On Wheels, call (301) 725-6895.

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