SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — After 40 years of business on South Crouse Avenue, Collins Barber and Beauty Shop has moved locations to Erie Boulevard East. Ownership believes that location on a strip style road will bring in new customers, while maintaining a close proximity to old customers.
The shop – along with others like it – plays a key role in the community. A four-generation Black-owned business, the barbershop serves as a cultural cohesion center for the Black community. A space where anyone can go to talk about the turmoil, successes, entertainment news, or sports news of the day (along with so much more).
Charleston Collins, the operations manager and head barber, understands the importance of his shop.
“I think it means a lot, definitely to the community”, Collins said. “I hear from people in the community who share that with me”.
Customer Greg Bell is one person who understands the significance of these kinds of spaces.
“Ya know, a Black-owned business, um ya know, for us, you can’t go wrong”, Bell said.
Even though Bell may look like a regular customer, he only embodies the word “regular” in a colloquial sense. He has been getting his haircut at the shop for over 35 years. So, I guess you could say he is a “regular”.
“I feel at home here, I feel welcome”, Bell said.
Charleston says his business is viewed as a therapeutic zone for some. One where they can get off what’s on their mind without fear of judgment.
“We have a lot of different conversations,” Collins said. “Politics, life, sports, definitely sports”.
Just sitting in the shop, you will come to realize that if you speak to Charleston, or anyone for that matter, you will have plenty of wisdom given back to you.