The neon mustache caught my eye.
The simple design burns above the door at The Shave Barbershop, one of the newest additions to my Poncey-Highland neighborhood.
What I found inside intrigued me further: an authentic barber shop, handsome and hip with hardwood floors, a pool table and Michael Jackson and Franz Ferdinand in the audio mix. Hunting trophies and old-school photos of bearded men on the walls. No appointments taken.
Does it sound like too much? I think it might now that I’ve written all of that.
But it’s not.
I also got a snazzy haircut, reasonably priced, and a great talk with my barber, Michael Sponsel. (Check out this amazing transition he shared on Instagram.) The barbers use old-school tools and modern techniques for contemporary styles. Beard trims. Shaves.
What’s His Story?
And I met owner Jackson Butler, who told me the tale of his business. A Gwinnett native who spent a decade in Los Angeles, Butler came home recently to visit the folks. Needing a haircut, he went in search of a barber shop like he’d seen in L.A. — not a chain and not your grandfather’s barbershop.
Long story short, he opened The Shave late last year, after laboring side by side with his father for weeks, refreshing their bond with a whole wave of new memories and stories. The shop is on Highland Avenue near North Avenue, the corner that’s home to Manuel’s Tavern, Videodrome, the King of Pops’ original cart — and lots of bearded dudes with trendy haircuts.
It’s a specific neighborhood, close to Inman Park, Virginia-Highland and Midtown — and The Shave reflects all of that as skillfully as it does the new masculinity inside. You’ll see hipsters, sure, but also a mix of ethnicities, ages, orientations… It’s hard to imagine anyone feeling uncomfortable.
In fact, I couldn’t help but imagine my own father there. It’s a lifelong association, since my career Army dad always took me to the base barbershop in the PX when I was a kid. Some things linger, you know — that jar of blue disinfectant. The hum of the clippers. The nothing-feminine-here aesthetic.
Because it’s not a salon, you know?
I like the spot, I like the dudes, I like the cut.
I like the story and the father-son connection.
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