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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Barber shop with PG-13 attitude creates a buzz

Krista Cooper gives Shane Reed a haircut Tuesday at The Man Shop, which has a pool table, putting green and TVs.Krista Cooper gives Shane Reed a haircut Tuesday at The Man Shop, which has a pool table, putting green and TVs.
 (Colin Mulvany/Colin Mulvany/ / The Spokesman-Review)
Doug Clark The Spokesman-Review

This has to be the first local clip joint with a warning label on the front door.

“Rated PG-13 for: Strong language and smart-ass attitudes.”

There. That should chase off the humor-impaired, the thin-skinned and the politically correct.

The Man Shop doesn’t need ‘em. Or want ‘em.

The Man Shop is trying to build a business based on socially calloused, etiquette-challenged, laugh-and-scratch lugs like me.

Hardly an endangered species.

Located in Spokane at the southeast corner of Third and Washington, The Man Shop has been open only a couple of weeks. Yet already the community is buzzing like electric shears about this updated twist on the manly barber shop of yore. Several people, in fact, urged me to go check it out.

Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!

I realize that cheating on your barber violates one of society’s last remaining sacred trusts. So for the record: my sad wispy lettuce still belongs to Betty Brown at the Lincoln Building Barber Shop.

But for purposes of journalistic inquiry, I dropped in on The Man Shop Tuesday. I paid a woman with a leather tool belt around her waist to give me a trim and a genuine, hot-towels-and-lather straight razor shave.

“I’m always up for a challenge,” kidded Krista Cooper, who did the deed.

This is no Hair Club for Men.

This is more of a Clubhouse for Hairy Dudes.

The leggy, well-endowed cartoon babe in The Man Shop logo is the first tip-off that things are way different here.

Once through the door I was greeted by an array of toys designed to make waiting for a haircut a pleasure not a pain. If only doctors’ offices were this thoughtful.

For starters, the shop’s centerpiece is a pool table with legs more massive than Hillary Clinton’s stout pegs. There’s an X-Box for video gamers. For golfers there’s a computerized putting green that could frustrate Tiger Woods.

There’s fresh popcorn in this too-cute cart emblazoned with the Harley-Davidson emblem. There’s a cooler of liquid refreshments like the venerable Nehi grape and something called Sex Soda.

There are inviting black leather-and-chrome couches. Here a man can scooch back and better himself by soaking up the wisdom contained in The Man Shop’s mandatory reading material: “Maxim,” “Guns & Ammo,” “Car Craft” and “Fortune” magazines.

Did someone say television?

Only a sports bar has more boob tubes hanging from the walls.

“Forget the haircut,” I yelled to receptionist, Diserree Blanton. “I’m going to live here.”

As previously mentioned, barbers with tool belts are part of The Man Shop shtick. Same for red Craftsman tool chests, which are used to store combs and styling equipment.

If the testosterone-charged tomfoolery doesn’t grab you, this probably will: $10 haircuts.

A bargain even for a man in my defoliated state.

Cooper told me she had never before wielded a straight razor during her 10 years of snipping hair. Molly Lund, the other stylist was bobbing in the same canoe.

So prior to The Man Shop’s opening, an old-school barber from Ritzville was brought in to teach a crash course in Very Close Shave 101. “I was a little nervous at first,” added Cooper as she ran her straight razor under my chin. “I mean, how would you feel if you sliced somebody’s nose?”

There are people who would pay to hold a blade under my throat. Fortunately, Cooper is not among them. She shaved away without spilling so much as a drop of Doug blood.

The Man Shop, with its orange walls and hardwood floor, has the thought-out look and slick feel of a franchise. The surprise is that this is the sole creation of three local people who don’t cut hair and have never worked in the barber biz.

They are Joe and Summer Lobb and Summer’s cousin, Mike Howe.

The Lobbs say The Man Shop grew out of Joe’s growing contempt for getting his hair cut in salons that catered mainly to women. He was sick of having to sit smelling the fumes with nothing but “Women’s Day” magazines to read.

Joe’s tales of perm fume purgatory became sketch comedy for the Lobbs and Howe. Somewhere amid their laughter, an idea began to take root.

Why not create a humorous, man-themed hair salon for guys?

Humor is the key for why I think this place will succeed. Edgy though it may be, there is no mean-spiritedness to be found.

Only a prig wouldn’t get a laugh out of The Man Shop’s Mullet Wall of Fame. Or its irreverent signage, like the one advising customers that all products have been tested “on animals and children first.”

“I think it’s great,” said Tony Sebastian, who enjoyed the wait for his haircut. “It doesn’t feel like a barber shop. And I get to play a game of pool.”