Like all good old-fashioned barbershops, it’s walk-in only, says Josh Geidel. He lives within walking distance of Terry Moss’s Atwood Barbershop, where he’s gotten his hair cut every two weeks for a few years. Geidel is one of many longtime customers, including Goodwill Obieze, who travels from Oshkosh for his monthly cut. He started going to the Atwood Avenue shop three years ago while attending school in Madison.
Men flock to Moss’s shop because they know they’ll get a good haircut. And it’s one of those places, like barbershops often are, that is a vestige of the past. With some modern touches, that is. Multiple TVs hang in the shop, opposite a line of chairs against a mural-covered wall. On one rainy August morning, the shop is filled with patient customers. Moss’s Apple watch lights up as he lifts his arm to click on an electric razor. A barber-caped young customer takes a Snapchat video of his new ’do.
But even as cell phones buzz and flatscreen TVs flash the latest headlines, time seems to slow down inside the shop. The wait is part of the experience. You take a ticket, find a chair along the wall and wait your turn. As Moss and the other three barbers snip, cut, trim and buzz, there’s always a baseline hum of conversation that makes the shop feel warm.
“It’s pretty easy to observe when you walk by there on a busy day that it’s a really important part of the community over here,” says Geidel. “That said, especially when it comes to a business that’s primarily [customers] of color, I feel like part of the marginalization is like, ‘Look at this place, it’s so special.’ But it’s also just a barbershop.”
It’s a business that’s attracted faithful clientele every year since Moss opened it in 2010. “The most important things are novel,” Geidel says. Like a face-to-face conversation with a neighbor. Or a deep breath in a place that feels like home.
Or a dang good haircut.