The landlocked Graham’s Barber Shop in Lawrenceville isn’t going anywhere. But owner Ryan Graham will soon get a chance to cut loose when he adds a mobile haircutting unit housed in a 1961 Airstream trailer.
The 24-foot vehicle will hit the road this spring. After getting a new ‘do, customers can check their reflection in its metallic surface.
For the last six months, Graham has been restoring the vintage trailer with help from local welder and artist Michael Walsh. When it’s done, the mobile shop will boast two mid-century barber chairs, a 75-year-old back barber station, two sinks, a waiting and merchandise area, and … a tiki bar.
Like the Butler Street shop, the Airstream is a time capsule filled with retro décor.
There’s no lack of headspace in the trailer. Some of Graham’s tallest patrons — including members of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Penguins — can stand on their tippy-toes without bumping their noggins on the ceiling. No helmets needed.
Once the winter weather gives way to warm temperatures, Graham plans to tour the city, stopping at predetermined spots along the way to offer cuts and shaves.
This nomadic business model is perfect for a guy who’s always on the go: “I have a really short attention span,” Graham tells NEXTpittsburgh. “That’s why barbering is great; every 25 minutes there’s someone different in my chair.”
The son of a bartender and a chef, the 42-year-old barber grew up in the restaurant industry. He spent years waiting tables and slinging drinks. When the late-night lifestyle began to take its toll, Graham decided to change career paths.
Seven years ago, he graduated from barber school and began cutting hair professionally. He opened Graham’s Barber Shop in 2014 with a built-in clientele of service industry buddies. The company now boasts seven barbers and a customer base that includes men, women and children, local celebrities and even Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto.
The new gig has many similarities to bartending, he says, most importantly the ability to develop personal relationships with patrons. Now, instead of filling their glasses, he’s trimming their split ends.
“People are so disconnected these days, but I went the opposite route; I’m more connected,” Graham says. “I get a window into people’s lives.”