By KEVIN CHIRI
Tammany West news
MANDEVILLE – When you walk into Razor’s Edge Barbershop in Old Mandeville, it’s like stepping into the past.
And that’s just how owner Brody Sears planned it.
Sears opened his own barbershop two years ago, and although only 29 years old, clearly had a vision for something different he wanted to offer men who came to get their hair cut.
“I wanted this to be like the old time barbershops, where men came to get a hot towel shave, talked with other men without TV’s or computers around, and even have a drink together,” he said.
Don’t be mistaken, Sears is hardly running a bar along with his barbershop.
But one of the more unique features of the business, which has old pictures on the wall and plays music from the likes of Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra, is something Sears calls “Gentlemen’s Jack Daniels Day.”
Only on Fridays the “gentlemen” who come into the barber shop can walk to the corner counter, open a small cabinet, and take out a bottle of Jack Daniels bourbon and pour a shot. Sears says it was part of the old tradition when men came to barbershops, so he decided to add it to his shop.
“I checked the legal side of it all so I don’t serve alcohol to anyone. But if I have a bottle there, and someone wants to pour a shot, they are allowed to,” he said.
The fun tradition has become so popular that some of his regulars chip in by bringing a bottle now and then.
But Razor’s Edge Barbershop is much more than having a shot with other men. Sears felt led to the profession from a young age and has worked hard to improve his craft.
“I actually started cutting my own hair when I was 13, and right away my friends wanted me to cut their hair too. I remember using two mirrors and a pair of dog clippers the first time I cut my hair. I think I was motivated by a bad haircut I got,” he said with a laugh.
He continued to cut hair for his friends on into high school, although he never charged them because “none of us had any money, so I did it for free.”
Sears says he began to consider it as a profession when he was 16 and began setting up “a little barber shop in my garage. My parents always got after me to clean up the hair.”
By the age of 22 he taught himself how to use a straight razor and kept practicing until attending Rob Roy Barber Academy during a year he moved to Rhode Island. But by the age of 24 he was back on the North Shore and began cutting hair at several salons to improve his talent.
By the age of 27 he was ready to open his own shop and admits he found a real friend in Bryan Frost, a relative of the Frost family that operated Mandeville barbershops for years.
“He was on Girod Street in the old building and even though he was running his own barbershop in part of it, offered me the other side of the building to start my own place,” he said. “No doubt that helped me get started to be in the old Frost building.”
By that time, Sears had been developing his vision, including his own look of a shaved head and handlebar mustache that greets customers when they come in the store.
He said every haircut is ended with hot lather and a straight razor on the neck and sideburns, “continuing what used to be the old barbershop tradition.”
Sears operates the shop with another aspiring barber in Vince Quatroy, his apprentice who caught his vision and has chipped in with a few ideas to create the old time look and feel of the shop.
“The people seem to love what we have here,” Sears said. “We didn’t really do any advertising at the beginning, but just talked it up to people and saw the business grow by referrals, and the times I talk to people out in the business world. We already cut the hair for a lot of local public officials.”
Sears said the traditional barbershop offering has “done far better than I thought I would do at the beginning. I’m honestly kind of overwhelmed at the way people have loved this.”
The shop is located at 243 Girod Street in Mandeville and is open Tuesday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5, and on Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sears can be reached by phone at 504-401-5068.