Local barber shop sticks to its roots

Local barber shop sticks to its roots

Walking up to the front door of Fox’s Barber Shop, a half-century fades from the annals of haircutting history. An old-fashioned barber pole is the only thing that indicates the presence of a barber shop, tucked away just across the Sandage Avenue commuter and faculty lot since 1957.

Walk inside Fox’s and the only tip-off to customers that they haven’t experienced a time warp is the color television – even though the TV is at least a quarter century old.

“We’re an old-time barber shop,” said Marshall Martinez, the most tenured barber that Fox’s employs. “Sports Clips ain’t got nothing on us. We do the shaves. Other places don’t do shaves or anything like that anymore.”

Walk-in customers often times walk out before they get a chance to sit down. Not because of bad customer service or the price of a haircut, but because it’s still cash or check only at Fox’s. Those same customers usually walk right back in 15 minutes later after withdrawing a $20 from an ATM. It’s $14 for a regular cut, $9 for a buzz cut.

The building is about the size of two freshman dorms, and the ceilings are about the height of a dorm room in Colby Hall or Milton-Daniel Hall. Five chairs, brown-leathered originals with metallic levers to raise and lower the same regular customers since 1957, line the middle-right side of the shop. Walk to the last chair, and that’s the grand tour of Fox’s.

While the small-town feel of Fox’s adds to the barbershop experience, it isn’t what makes the atmosphere.

“We repeat,” Martinez said. “Most people that come in here usually don’t end up going anywhere else.”

While most women who walk into Fox’s are bringing their sons or waiting on their husband, Fox’s will do women’s cuts starting at $15, Martinez said.

The first thing they teach in barber college is to never talk about politics or religion, Jeremy Soliz, a barber at Fox’s said.

“We give each other a hard time,” Soliz said with a wide grin. “What gets everybody going are sports. That’s man-talk all around. You don’t really have to mean what you say, but it’s just about getting it stirred up. Customers know it too, so they go along with it.”

The air of warmth in Fox’s becomes a literal reality to customers when the warm foam is applied to the neck or face for a shave. A regular cut includes a hot lather neck shave.

The lather starts as liquid soap. The lather machine turns it into warm foam that is used to clean up the neck or face with a single-blade razor, Soliz said.

A beard shave is $18, but well worth the $20 when tip is included said Kyle Lucak, a junior political science major.

“Its like a massage for the face,” Lucak said. “It’s something you can’t really describe unless you experience it. I know most guys don’t look forward to shaving for free, but it’s worth paying for it here.”

After a client is situated in the barber chair, which has more experience with customers than the barber himself, Soliz leans the client back and applies a warm towel to the face before lather is applied. At least 20 minutes fly by as he turns a shave into an art form, transforming skin to a smooth feel as the single-blade razor slides through the warm lather. A cold towel is then applied, which is followed by an alcohol-based aftershave balm complete with an old-fashioned sting.

“The cold towel and aftershave is quite the alarm clock,” Lucak said.

While Martinez brings his complementary massage to the shop for his clients, Soliz, who is 28, brings something else to Fox’s – youth and diversity.

“I get all the ethnics,” Soliz said. “I came here six years ago, and it was just white (clients), nothing else. Since I’ve been here I get a lot of Puerto Ricans and blacks because I know how to cut their hair. So now it is diverse. And that’s a good thing. I give everybody a hard time here because I say that I bring hope to (Fox’s).”

Before Dallas Kirbie bought Fox’s in 1998, the building was burnt orange. She painted it purple, and if a client walks in who isn’t a TCU fan, he or she is in trouble, Soliz said as he applied the warm foam to a client’s neck with what seemed like pure muscle memory.

“This is original as it gets,” Soliz said. “I grew up in a barbershop. We are in a spot where nobody knows where we’re at unless you grew up around here. And the ones that grew up around here have been coming since they were kids. Most TCU students don’t know we’re here. It’s a hidden spot.”

While many students don’t know about Fox’s, the football team does.

“We do most of the football players, trainers and the coaches,” Martinez said with a certain sense of pride. “(Head football coach) Patterson is ’bout the only coach we don’t do.”

“He gets all that money man, he probably has his own personal barber,” Soliz playfully added.

Walk-ins have died down since the economy has taken a dip, and it takes a long time in the haircutting business to get regulars, Soliz said.

Matt Szurek, a junior finance major, decided to stop by Fox’s for a haircut after he noticed it from the Sandage Avenue commuter and faculty lot across the street.

“I wish people living on campus had a chance to notice this place,” Szurek said. “I feel like everyone looking for a place to get a haircut when they move onto campus would come here if they knew it was only a couple blocks away. I usually just get the buzz (haircut), so it’s cheaper than any other place to get one and I don’t even have to drive.”

Fifty years of history might reattach to customers the minute they walk out the front door of Fox’s after a haircut or shave, but the smile stays, Martinez said.

“We always cuttin’ around and jokin’ and havin’ a good time,” he said. “If you come in here and come with a bad attitude then don’t even come.”

Fox’s Barber Shop

Location: 3028 Sandage Ave.

Hours of operation:

Tuesday – Friday 8 a.m. to

6 p.m.

Saturday 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Closed: Sunday and