Once upon a time, barbershops were an institution; a place where men could go to kick back, relax and get a solid haircut in the process. However, in part to the times changing, this cultural identity has somewhat eroded, although Adelaide still has a handful of barbershops to offer. One of these bastions is Robbie's Chop Shop, where owner Robbie Ferrante is bringing back the idea of the old-school barber - one that, in Ferrante's words, “blokes can come in, have a beer and have a laugh”, all the while allowing customers to feel comfortable.
Situated on King William Street in the heart of Goodwood, the layout is very much akin to that of a man cave; a well-stocked beer fridge in one corner, a Playstation in the other, as well as televisions above every seat – as well as an emphasised point of no women allowed, keeping a firm, yet understandable hand on the 'blokes only' mantra.
Ferrante has been in the barbershop business for 17 years, and is understanding of what it takes to run such a place like the Chop Shop to great success; his priorities lay with keeping his staff and customers positive ahead of anything else, not only for their sake but for also his own. A particular catalyst for Ferrante was working at markets in the northern suburbs only years before he opened the Chop Shop - he'd get to work at 4 am every morning, only to see the veterans sharing cigarettes, the odd drink and like-minded humour - and being exposed to that culture only reinforced the successful integration of it into the Chop Shop.
This emphatic embrace of attitude was clear as day, when I was halfway through getting a haircut from Ferrante, with one of his staff bolting inside to exclaim:
'Dude, action figures.'
Ferrante stops what he's doing, and with an attitude of determination, demands that somebody gets Mattel on the phone immediately. This is one of roughly twenty ideas a week that any of the guys will have - some are purely outlandish, while others have led the Chop Shop to running a pop-up barber anywhere from the side of the street, to pubs or the Royal Adelaide Show. But such is the identity of the Chop Shop, where like-minded lads shoot nonsense but still find a way to endorse it in a vibrant manner. Perhaps, the greatest idea that Ferrante has had yet is the revitalisation of an institution lost to time.
You can find Robbie's Chop Shop on Facebook.
All images supplied.
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