Five years ago, Vine Street Barber Shop in Mount Vernon had very little connection to Kenyon. Now, it’s a popular place for Kenyon students to get their hair cut and share stories and local gossip.
The shop, owned and run by Mount Vernon resident Colin Pack, gives off a game room vibe upon entering. A TV sits in the corner, displaying whatever sporting event happens to be on at the time, and chairs line the wall opposite the barber stations. Barber Steve Niday, also of Mount Vernon, who helps run the shop, describes it as a place where people can go to talk about sports and unwind while getting their hair cut.
“It’s a job where you get to be social,” Niday said. “It’s kind of like a locker-room environment here, and I feel like everyone just sort of has fun in a barber shop.”
Though the barber shop has existed for around a decade, Pack bought the location nine years ago and hired his high school friend Niday two years later.
According to Niday, the pair spent much of their time in high school cutting classmates’ hair.
“We had always done haircuts at home or in a basement or a family room and so we always had that outside influence of, ‘Hey, why don’t you become a barber?’” Niday said. “Everything just kind of unfolded to where we could finally take that leap and go check out the barber school, and that really cemented it for us.” The pair started by giving haircuts to friends and family and eventually word spread.
For Kenyon students, Vine Street began to play a larger role in the community once athletes and drama students began frequenting the shop, unable to wait for a school break to get their hair trimmed for school spirit or for shows. Before shows, drama students would come in with a very specific haircut that they would need for their role, and those same students would come back the next week once the show was over to restore their hair to their everyday look.
The power of word of mouth then brought more students to the shop. The shop posts events and information on its Facebook page, but Kenyon students are largely responsible for providing more customers from the College. “We get a lot of regular customers here,” Niday said. “Seniors leave every year, but somehow word gets out to freshmen and we get new freshmen customers every single year. It’s really cool how the word spreads.”
One first-year student, Matt Mandel, heard about the shop via word of mouth. Mandel said he was struggling to find a good place to get his hair cut when he heard about Vine Street through his Upperclass Counselor.
“He asked me where I’m from and gave me advice about being at Kenyon,” Mandel said of Niday. “He seemed like a really nice guy and he also gave me a good haircut.”
Vine Street Barber Shop is located at 10 West Vine St. in Mount Vernon, and is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.