Phil McWilliams- Eastside Barber Shop, London, KY
Welcome to our first interview in our Barber Spotlight series where we will be interviewing barbers from all over the globe to get an inside look on their unique cultures and traditions. This week we will be interviewing Phil from Eastside Barber shop located in the small Kentucky town of London. Phil is a close friend of us here at Lockhart’s and is excited to be a part of our first Q and A session.
Randy (Lockhart's): Phil, thank you for coming on for our first interview. Could you first tell us a little about your shop?
Phil: The name of our shop is Eastside Barber Shop, we are located at 802 E Fourth Street, London, Kentucky 40741. We have been at this location for 2 years, after being at our prior location for 6 years. The shop is owned by myself and my father. It has an old-time bluegrass feel with banjos and other décor around the shop reflecting the culture of South-East Kentucky.
Randy (Lockhart's):You mentioned that your father owns the shop and works with you as well, how long has he been barbering? Did you learn your trade from him?
Phil: My father has been a barber for 30 years, and has certifications in barbering, barber instruction and cosmetology. I learned from my father when I was still in school, and since then he and I have taught about 8 other barbers who have opened their own shops in other counties. My great grandfather was a barber as well, so we have sort of a lineage of barbers in the family.
Randy (Lockhart's): What kinds of people come to your shop?
Phil: We have all kinds of people who come in, although the majority of our clients are businessmen like lawyers and bankers, we also have many servicemen and medical professionals as well. But we pride ourselves mostly on the cultural diversity we have created from being experienced barbers.
Randy (Lockhart's): What is discussed between your customers? Do they have similar interests?
Phil: The main topics discussed are sports, current events, and politics. Local politics are also sometimes debated which can be a little more touchy. I remember one time; we had two clients get in a heated debate over a recently passed law about the town being able to have package stores, so we had to diffuse the situation between them and ultimately resulted in losing business from one client. Agriculture is popular around the area so farmers will often discuss it at the shop. Local news, such as the opening of a new restaurant, is popular due to the county population being so small (around 70,000). Overall, our shop has a lot of positive interaction and comradery all around. People love that we are father and son so naturally it’s a family barbershop.
Randy (Lockhart's): Every barber seems to have heard some pretty bizarre stories, have you had a customer tell you any crazy or extraordinary stories while you were giving them a haircut?
Phil: A customer told us a story of how he was cycling one day and he had been hit by a car head on. He broke both of his arms and legs, his face went into the windshield of the car tearing off his ear, and he was put into a coma. Despite his hardships after the accident, he still competes in marathons and triathlons. He has never had a negative attitude and always brings a positive aura to the shop.
Randy (Lockhart's): Are there any unique services or traditions that your shop holds?
Phil: My father likes to keep it simple with low prices around the shop. We stick to haircuts, shaves and beard styling. However, on every other Thursday people would come to the shop to play music with my father and me. It started with our regular customers coming in and playing with us, but when word got out about Thursday’s at Eastside to play. We would have 10-15 guitarists, a couple banjos and even a fiddle or upright bass player. We mainly played bluegrass music matching the theme of the shop.
Randy (Lockhart's): Music is an awesome way to bring people together. What brands of instruments do you play? What are your personal music preferences?
Phil: My dad’s favorite brand is Martin for classic bluegrass sound. However, one of my favorite style of guitars is the old style hollow-body Gibson’s with the F shaped sound holes. I have an appreciation for blues with some of my favorite artists being Lightnin Hopkins, Gary Clark Jr, and Skip James.
Randy (Lockhart's):Have you had anything crazy or extraordinary happen in the shop while you’ve worked there?
Phil: We had a break in once, someone had smashed through the front glass door in an attempt to rob us. We don’t usually keep a great deal of cash at the shop, so they only made out with about $20 and a roll of quarters in money. However, a bag of music equipment that belonged to my father was stolen, it was worth about $400. It never turnedup.
Randy (Lockhart's): What is your passion outside of barbering?
Phil: When I have the time, I still love to play music. I do volunteer work around the community and enjoy spending time with my family. I have also taken an interest in life insurance sales after being offered an opportunity to become a broker.
Randy (Lockhart's): Where can people find you online?
Note that Phil will be starting his own blog too, so follow us to stay updated on when Phil will be producing content. We would like to thank Phil for taking the time out of his schedule to do an interview with us, and to all of you for visiting our page. Stay tuned for our next Barber Spotlight!