Barbershops seem to be everywhere I ride in Detroit. They are found on major roads such as Gratiot Avenue, Fenkell, Linwood and on many others I’ve ridden. Others are situated in a neighborhood storefront, and most appear to be a gathering place for the locals. Sometimes they are hard to spot because their signage has faded over time, or they are located in a small unassuming building that looks as if it is abandoned. There is one I pass regularly that has no street level sign that I can see. A lone, bare incandescent light is shining through the bars that cover the windows and door, lighting the entrance way. Peering in, it seems that nothing has changed since the 1930’s.
Barbershop names and signs are some of the most creative I’ve come across while cycling. I’ve seen shop names that rhyme – “Braids and Fades”. Others I’ve found difficult to read because the letters that were used appeared to be hand painted. Still others feature drawings or paintings of clippers, scissors, combs or razors. Most are painted in bright colors and of course, the proverbial barber pole can be found painted near the entrance door or somewhere on the building.
Barber pole paintings can be very interesting. Sometimes the stripes are painted as if they are traveling up (twisting right) while others are painted as if they are traveling down (twisting left). A few have large painted globes on top, giving them a top-heavy look. Others appear is if they are floating on the side of the building and one I saw looked like a rocket, pointing upward like it was ready to be launched. No matter how crude or stylish they may be, the red, white and blue striped pole paintings do their job in identifying the shop as the place to get a haircut. I’ve yet to spot an actual working, 3-D barber pole on my rides. I know it’s out there.