Until you walk into a place like Weiss Barber Supply, you don’t realize all that can go into a haircut and shave.
Oils, balms, powders, razors, clippers, brushes, towels, dryers, capes, lather-making machines, mirrors, combs and – of course – those red-and-white rotating poles.
And that’s just some of what best friends Matt Amos and John Jenkins found after buying the place in June.
“When we came through to do inventory, it took us five days,” Amos said.
Weiss has been around and in the same family since 1952. Amos heard it was for sale after the store began carrying his Admiral’s Pennant line of beard oil.
When Amos told Jenkins about the pending closure, “He said, ‘Why don’t we just buy it? What do they want for it?’ ”
Because the previous owners had let many clients know they were planning to close, the partners have spent quite a bit of time letting those customers know that’s not the case.
Weiss is the city’s only exclusive barber supply store, Amos said. With about 300 barbers and three barber colleges operating locally, it would seem to have a good market cornered. But he said many items used by barbers can be ordered online.
The partners are trying to counter that by offering shear sharpening and clipper repair services, making deliveries on a weekly basis to barber shops, increasing the hours they’re open and also by appealing to non-barbers as customers. Currently, the latter account for about a quarter of the shop’s business.
“The people that grow (beards) consistently are regular” customers, he said.
Amos said straight razors are coming back “big time” among barbers and nonprofessional shavers.
“You get that old-school shave,” Amos said. “It’s actually quite a bit cheaper” than disposal blades over time.
The store’s most expensive model of straight razor – a Dovo made in Germany with special steel – costs $275, although there are many less expensive models as well. There’s also a shelf full of vintage straight razors and lather mugs that a local collector offered for display.
Amos, who spent 10 years in the Marines, never saw himself operating a barber supply shop. But after losing part of both legs to an explosive device while serving in Afghanistan in 2011, he set a goal of owning his own business – or preferably, businesses.
In addition to the line of beard oil, he produces a line of soap that contains Kansas wheat beer – also for sale at Weiss – and has at least one more product under development.
Additionally, he is executive director for patient relations at Peeples Orthotics and Prosthetics, and is active in Wounded Warriors Outdoors, a nonprofit that helps veterans enjoy hunting.
“I had some incredible mentors, both here locally and through the Naval hospital,” he said.
“What really limits a person is the six inches between their ears.”