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The cutting edge

Shave and a haircut a little more than two bits at old-timey barbershop in West Broadway

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Barber chairs with built-in ashtrays. Check.

Hot towels and straight razors. Check.

Gourmet coffee, eco-friendly hair products, skinny jeans-and-tie-wearing, tattooed hipster barbers. Check, check, and they aren't kidding when they say Hunter & Gunn is "not your father's barber shop."

It looks like it could be, though, what with the caribou horns and stuffed fish mounted on the wall and the cowhide area rugs on the hardwood floor. Never mind the no-frills, six-item service menu. There's no receptionist, either.


But Jeremy Regan wants your mother and your sister -- and everyone else in the family -- to patronize the establishment, too. It officially opens Tuesday at 567 Broadway.

The 38-year-old proprietor aims to make Hunter & Gunn the kind of neighbourhood hangout that barber shops used to be in the '50s and '60s, before men's long locks and bushy beards in the '70s, and then the rise of unisex discount salons in the '80s, threatened them with extinction.

"I'm taking the feel, the design and the soul of an old-school barber shop and making it available for all," says Regan, a hairstylist of 13 years who left a high-end spa salon to start his own business. "It's a barbershop concept but we're doing everyone's hair -- men, women and children."

He intentionally chose to open shop in the "up and coming" West Broadway neighourhood, he says, because the "ideals of diversity, DIY and community involvement" align with Hunter & Gunn's vision.

First of all, one dollar from all service and product sales will go into a fund to support local charities and arts organizations.

Also, everyone who works at the shop has to commit to doing between two and four hours of volunteer work per month. And once a month, Regan will close the three-chair shop for half a day so he and his staff can volunteer at a local youth organization.

"As a business owner, when you throw something like that at someone and they're OK with it, you know they're kindred spirits and they probably share the same values, so it's almost like a little test when I'm hiring people," he says.

At his previous job, Regan charged $53 for a haircut (including shampoo and blow dry). All haircuts at Hunter & Gunn will be a flat $25, with extras a la carte ($5 for shampoo, $10 blow dry). He's hoping the community will see the commitment he's making through the charity work and accessible price point and help make the barber shop such a success that he can take the concept to other neighbourhoods.

Regan, an avid collector of word tattoos -- the one on his neck says "purity" -- says the idea for Hunter & Gunn was inspired by Rudy's Barbershop, a chain of community centric barber shops founded in Seattle, Wash., in the early '90s and known for their casual, retro-hip esthetic. (The name was apparently inspired by a character on the TV show Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids.)

One newspaper described Rudy's esthetic as "a mix of the classic and the punkishly improvised." There are currently 14 locations across the U.S.

Regan describes the Hunter & Gunn vibe as "kind of Mad Men-ish and sort of cottage-y." The logo is a pair of caribou horns and the washrooms, he says, will be decorated in the style of CBGB (Country, Bluegrass and Blues), a music club founded in New York City in the early '70s that inadvertently became a forum for American punk and New Wave bands. The cabinet record player, however, will spin whatever classic vinyl he and his three co-stylists (all males, ages 24, 26 and 29) can round up.

Works from local artists will also grace the walls of the barber shop and be available for purchase, with all proceeds going to the artist. (One of the barbers makes bow ties and those will likely be for sale as well.)

You can't get a shave and a haircut for two bits at Hunter & Gunn, but Regan says you can get a $53 haircut for $25, provided you're willing to forego the wash and dry. And a hot shave, price to be announced. According to the menu, complaints about the Jets, the Bombers and the government are free.

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Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 3, 2012 D1

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