Building an entire services suite dedicated to pampering, wellness or cosmetic enhancement is certainly not a new idea in beauty salons. For nearly as long of salons have existed, so have the bundled manicures, pedicures and facials — along with ancillary comfort features like essential oil diffusers, wine and coffee offerings, with soothing music piped in.
In recent years those services, particularly in posh urban salons, have gotten more exotic and comprehensive, and digital servicing has made them more accessible and easy to locate. But the idea of a haircut as the cornerstone of an entire consumer experiences is not exactly a new idea.
For women anyway.
While there are unisex salons in the world, the more male-associated haircut venue is the barber shop, and its aesthetic has always been decidedly simpler and more direct. It is the kind of place one goes for a haircut, and maybe a shave. That is an excellent scaffolding off of which to build a richer commerce experience, Scissors & Scotch Co-Founder Erik Anderson noted— particularly when one adds in the community aspect that attaches to a barber shop. It is a place to get a haircut, Anderson noted, but it can also for many men be a place to hang out and catch up.
But building out a more comprehensive commerce experience in a barber shop isn’t about turning it into a full-service salon. While there are men looking for those services, most barber shop patrons aren’t necessarily enthusiastically hoping that aromatherapy diffusers become part of the experience. What they are looking for more is a way to to bring more things they enjoy and that enhance that community experience. Things like scotch.
“We wanted to create a place where guys can get a quality haircut, enjoy a drink (or two) and spend some time relaxing. Haircuts shouldn't be a chore,” he said.
Founded in Omaha in 2015, Scissors & Scotch opened as a barber-shop-meets-bar environment offering patrons a free cocktail with their haircut, a variety of beer and liquor options to choose from, a series of salon services and shoe shines. The idea caught on in Omaha — and the firm spread to locations in Colorado and Iowa. In 2017 the firm began licensing out the concept to franchisees as part of an effort to push the Scissors & Scotch concept from a local, mostly midwestern, phenomenon into a nationally-recognized chain.
“We are going to continue to open corporate stores, but we did pivot to the franchise model,” Anderson told INC. We couldn't keep growing one by one. At that point, we were like, if we are going to continue to scale these without giving up a giant chunk of the company, we are going to have to look at the franchise route.”
The service, however, has an exportable and visually appealing aesthetic that Anderson believes has helped push it forward in the era of Instagram. A haircut and a hot towel shave start at $48 (with a drink included) and while customers are able and welcome to pay for all their services a la carte, in recent years Scissors & Scotch has also expanded into offering subscription memberships. that provide discounts, free upkeeps, guest passes and access to scotch and beer tastings in addition to other access-based perks.
Cost of membership varies based on how comprehensive a package a customer is looking for. The process for signing up involves a customer answering two questions: What services they want and how often they want to come in. Customers can modify their services at any time as their needs change, there are no hidden fees and membership can be canceled or paused at any time.
The goal, according to Anderson, is to make it easier to keep up grooming habits simply by making it a fun experience to do so. Getting a haircut, he said, can seem like a hassle. Getting a drink, on the other hand, is something many people want to do after work. Putting the “bar” in barber shop, he said, is a natural combination — and one that keeps customers not only coming back, but actually signing up to subscribe to keep coming back.