Normally, Moody – a barber at Barbers, Inc. in Brownsville – would endure a lengthy bus ride to a Long Island cuttery just to buy his supplies. Now that Barbers-on-Wheels has opened its doors in Bedford-Stuyvesant, this barber’s commute has been cut down tremendously. In fact, Moody can walk from his Gates Avenue apartment to the cuttery located at 437 Nostrand Avenue (between Hancock and Jefferson Streets) in less than 10 minutes to check out the selection and make his purchase, or put in his order and wait for it to be delivered to the shop.
“It’s beautiful,” says Moody, who found out about the cuttery from a customer. “It’s convenient. I’ve been getting a lot of love.”
This is the type of feedback that husband and wife team RH and LJ Bethea have been receiving since their Grand Opening on June 3, 2006. In addition to selling barber supplies, the cuttery offers authentic African art, soap, candles, incense, oils and bath salts.
“My whole concept behind this is to make a difference in our culture,” says RH, a carpenter by trade who remodeled the storefront in three months. “I wanted to let [our people] know that we can open up a business and it doesn’t have to be a hole in the wall. You take your time and express yourself through what you build.”
RH says the cuttery is an extension of the delivery business he has been doing for the past two years. After witnessing a man come into a barbershop where he’d get his haircut and sell the barbers hundreds of dollars worth of equipment, RH seized the opportunity. He purchased a white van – which today, is the company’s trademark – and began making his rounds.
Besides the cuttery’s convenient location, great prices are also the reason barbers come from Brooklyn neighborhoods, including East New York, Crown Heights, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Flatbush, as well as from the other boroughs to get their goods. “T-Outliners are like a god to a barber,” says RH. “You go onto Fulton Street and it’s sold for $47. I charge $38.95.”
Having been a Bedford-Stuyvesant resident all of his life, RH is definitely grounded in his community. He cares about everyone, especially the youth. In preparation for his Grand Opening, he paid several neighborhood kids to get on their bikes and pass out flyers. “They said, ‘Oh, man. It’s that easy. You can make money like that?’ To this, RH replied, “Stick with me and I can show you how to make more money.” This, too, is a part of his mission: to empower the kids and show them a better way of life than just standing on the street corners.
“Our community is changing so quick and our black youth have no one that they can look up to and say, Wow. look at this guy and what he’s doing,” RH says. “It’s important to establish a business here to say that one day I’m going to be able to close down Nostrand and dump $5,000 into this street and put on a carnival for these kids. I don’t care if anybody else helps me.”
Barbers-on-Wheels has big plans, too. RH and LJ are working on a Web site where people from all over the country can place orders. Additionally, they are looking to purchase a warehouse for their nationwide move.
Still, they are dedicated to their community. John Salters, owner of Barbers Beauty Shop – adjacent to Barbers-on- Wheels – and a frequent customer, wholeheartedly believes this. He sums up his delight this way: “It’s what we need. It’s good service and the owners are friendly. They have my business.”
Contact Barbers on Wheels at 718-399-2210.