Barber and owner of Sam's Barber & Styling


Workers Around The Region

August 24, 2005|By Emily Bregel | Emily Bregel,Special to The Sun

Mark McBain

Barber and owner of Sam's Barber & Styling Shop in Ridgely Plaza

Age: 41

Years in business: 20

Salary: Between $30,000 and $35,000.

How he started: When weighing career options at age 20, McBain began dating his wife, Kim, whose father, Sam Anzalone, owned a barber shop. Barbering "just seemed like something that he had a lot of fun with, so I decided to give it a try." McBain got his barber's license from Avara's Academy of Hair Design on Pratt Street and began working for his future father-in-law in 1985. McBain now owns the business, and Anzalone works there three days a week.

Typical work day: McBain arrives at 7 a.m. to accommodate clients on their way to work. His shop, open seven days a week, does mostly walk-in customers, many of them regulars. A "couple dozen" haircuts is a good day, he said, although there are busy and slow seasons depending on holidays and school schedules. Currently, "we're getting ready for our back-to-school rush." Most of the 12 barbers he employs work about 40 to 50 hours a week.

Barbers vs. hairstylists: Barbers typically use clippers to do mostly short haircuts (only about 10 percent to 15 percent of his clientele is female) while hairstylists, who have cosmetology licenses, primarily use scissors and also can do chemical work and sets. He and his staff are licensed barbers with the state. Licensing by the State Board of Barbers requires completing either 2,250 hours of training in an apprenticeshipprogram or 1,200 hours within an approved barbers' school, beforetaking the exam. Barbers' licenses must be renewed every twoyears for a $50 renewal fee.

Tipping: The average tip is $2 per haircut.

The good: "The whole day is nothing but a big social hour." And work-related stress gets left behind when he leaves the shop. "It's forgotten as soon as you walk out the door."

The bad: The demands of customer service can be exhausting. "You don't really have a choice as to who you're dealing with. You have to put on a happy face all the time."

Sense of community: McBain has seen many children through their first haircuts, all the way to their high school graduation trims. He has become close with many of his customers who come in for weekly cuts. "You're watching people grow up and you become part of everybody's life that lives in the [Lutherville] neighborhood."

In style: Hair trends for boys this year tend to be shaggier than what was popular three or four years ago. "It's just long and in their face. Prior to that it was as short as they could get it." Most women who come in the shop want a quick and easy trim. "It's either short and off of their ears or they wear it real long and we cut the bottom off."

Philosophy on the job: "It seems like there are a lot of times when people come in with something they didn't want from [another barber]. I like to think I listen to them and give the haircut they want."

Summertime hair-care advice: Always shampoo and condition hair after swimming in pools to wash out chlorine. The chemical "just turns hair to straw."

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