Expect to see the red, white and blue of a barber's pole along Lorton Station Boulevard this month. After 15 years, The Barbershop & Co. will soon close their Springfield Mall store and make a new home at 8998-D Lorton Station Boulevard. The shop will open at the end of June.
The full-service barbershop caters to men and will have 10 chairs and 12 full-time and part-time barbers. Men will be able to get a straight razor shave and a haircut for $36.99 ($16.99 for the head/ $20 for the beard).
The Dingus family opened the first Barbershop & Co. store in Dale City in 1987. There are now 18 locations across Northern Virginia, two franchises in Pennsylvania and two franchises in Washington state.
The business is one of the few remaining at Springfield Mall, which will begin its long-awaited renovation by tearing down everything but the anchor stores at the end of the month.
Alexandria resident Rick Ponte has been coming to the Springfield Mall location for years. "I'm out of the military now and don't want to get a Forrest Gump haircut," said Ponte. "I guess I'm going to be getting my hair cut in Lorton."
On Thursday, patriarch Randy Dingus, Sr., and his sons Randy Jr. (general manager) and Tony (mall store manager) spoke with Patch from Springfield Mall.
Patch: How did you get in the business of cutting hair?
Randy Sr.: I've been a barber for 45 years. My first job was in Manassas at the West Gate Shopping Center when I was 16, and I went to barber school in 1967. My older brother, Ron, was a barber and my dad cut hair part-time. My uncle did it, and so did a cousin. So, when you're 16-years-old and don't know what in the hell you're going to do, you think: Yeah, that'll work.
Patch: Why are you moving from Springfield to Lorton?
Randy Jr.: Vornado (Springfield Mall owner) is tearing the mall down — everything but the anchor stores. We've got another five years on our 10-year lease, but they are telling us that the renovation nullifies it because they are tearing the mall down...
They were a terrible landlord. There was no communication at all with the mall tenants. We'd hear rumors here and there about what was going on with the mall, and then they called us in for a meeting about the mall and their plans for four years in a row. We'd get just enough information to keep us dangling, and, when you tried to call them to see the plans, they'd never return phone calls.
[Editor's note: Vornado Realty Trust did not return phone calls from Patch.]
I don't think there's been a new store that's gone in [Springfield Mall] in five years. They first told us that the mall renovation was going to be done in phases, so that's why we moved to this location on the second floor from the first floor. ... That was five years ago.
Randy Sr.: [Moving out] was a tough pill to swallow, because [Vornado] called us in for a meeting in February to tell us that we had to be out by June 30. I had to find a new location in about six weeks and that wasn't easy.
Patch: How has the recession impacted your business?
Randy Sr.: We bring in about 1,000 customers a week. Basically, we found that we don't lose customers because of the economy, but those who came in every three weeks for a haircut now come in every four-to-five weeks. That started around 08-09 and business seemed to fluctuate with the price of gasoline. It makes sense if you think about it. The economy [stinks] right now, man, and people are trying their damnedest to save all their money. Luckily, we've got a great base of customers here.
Patch: Are you going to open new locations?
Randy Sr.: Because of the economy, I've been holding back for about three years. Now, I think it will be time to start expanding again.
Patch: Why should people get their haircut at The Barbershop & Co.?
Randy Sr.: The quality of the work. We train our own barbers and we're very picky.
Tony: There's something to be said about specializing in something. That's why men can't get a great haircut at Hair Cuttery. We specialize in men's haircuts. It's why I wouldn't be able to give anyone a perm.
Randy Jr.: The atmosphere and personalities. There's a lot of trash-talking going on.
Patch: What's the best part of the job?
Randy Sr.: For me, it's always been the people. I love the people and talking with them. You really get to know your customers and you look forward to them coming in. I'm 61 and I still cut hair. And see? (Holds out right hand) The hands are just as steady as they can be.
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