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Thursday, June 4, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Old-school barbershop

Porter’s Barber Shop honors traditional practices in modern space

By Tori Dykes Staff writer

Blaine Burrell, Chris Banka and Chris Griffith do not fit the stereotype of the traditional barber.

All three are young and edgy-looking, with numerous tattoos. Indeed, the shop itself does not look traditional; vintage art adorns the walls and hip, contemporary music fills the space. But these three untraditional barbers are using their modern shop to embrace an old-fashioned style of barbering.

Burrell, 36, owner of Porter’s Barber Shop, had been cutting women’s hair for several years but eventually found he didn’t enjoy it.

“I realized that I didn’t have a passion for women’s hair,” he said.

He was intrigued by the romance of barbershops decades ago and decided to start his own shop where traditional barbershop practices and a strong relationship with the customer are crucial tenets. He was quickly joined by Griffith, 29, and soon after Banka, 35,and from there Porter’s Barber Shop took off.

Burrell describes his barbershop as a sort of union between “old school and new school,” meaning they are just as comfortable doing a flattop hairstyle as a faux-hawk or styling for 7-year-olds to 70-year-olds. Additionally, the shop offers unique, old-fashioned services like a straight-edge shave with a hot towel.

“Face shaves and things like that bring back the romance of the barbershop,” Burrell said. “It’s important for us to do that.”

“It’s nostalgic,” Banka agreed.

The three barbers are trying to revive the style of barbering their grandfathers remember.

“A barbershop was a staple,” Griffith said. “I don’t want to see that disappear.”

The shop embraces the traditional role of a barbershop by striving to create a sort of forum among customers and barbers. The shop was specifically designed small, but not confining, to make it easier for customers to talk to one another or for a barber to talk to someone other than the customer he is with. The chairs in which customers wait to be seen are placed in front of the customers getting a haircut or a shave to encourage conversation. The music in the shop is audible, but never loud enough to drown out conversations.

“If you want to share your opinion (the shop) is a good forum,” Burrell said.

“You hear what they’re talking about across the room and have to interject,” Banka said.

“(We) don’t want to see all these barbershops die off,” Griffith said.

What it all comes down to is making his barbershop a place for guys to feel comfortable and among friends, Burrell said.

“Our focus is on bringing back that community feeling,” he said.

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