SPOKANE – One local business in the Monroe District has recently celebrated its sixth anniversary on May 31, and the Brickyard Barbershop has grown busier with each year.
According to Owner Chris Banka, the local population has been incredibly supportive of the shop since opening in 2016. Banka has been a barber for over 15 years in all, but finally made his dream into fruition when he opened at the time.
“I love being in the Monroe District,” Banka said. “We have a very supportive business neighborhood down here, and each small business supports one another however they can. Whether it’s a simple customer referral or they come in to purchase something, these local owners are always looking out for each other.”
Patrons of Brickyard Barbershop located at 2802 N. Monroe St. will find an atmosphere filled with vintage décor that is very befitting of the district, as many antique and vintage shops line the streets. Clients can meet and work with any of the eight independently contracted barbers at Brickyard to find the personalized experience they are looking for.
According to Banka the location is also right where he wanted to be in town, because it’s in the middle of a very active business district.
It was also an area that needed barbering services, and he wants to help everyone going through the Monroe District the chance to stop in and schedule an appointment so his crew can help guys of all ages look their best.
Which is one of the main reasons Banka says he will continue to barber until he retires. “I really enjoy building relationships with my clients and getting to know them and the style they like,” Banka said. “For some people, having this personalized grooming experience can really help people maintain the everyday look they want. In some cases, it can really be a confidence booster for someone that might be having an off day as well. In any regard it is good to see customers going out with smiles on their faces.”
The entrepreneur also explained that it goes much deeper than just a trim or shave, as the relationships are equally important to the workers and patrons. The discussions born in the shop have created some of the most memorable times in Banka’s career as he described in a recent interview.
“Everyone that comes through the door has something about their life to share with us,” Banka said. “It really is an honor to get to know so much about so many people in the community simply by offering a needed service. In some cases this job has allowed me to meet some of my best lifelong friends, and it has also generated interest in people wanting to become barbers. Some clients even open up and ask about personal advice, and to know our clients trust us that much is a great feeling.”
“You just never know what conversation is going to walk through the door on any given day,” he continued.
Through the past six years, having developed those relationships has been both an honor and a blessing that has allowed him to overcome several obstacles as a business owner. He explained that after opening in 2016 he was faced with being right in the middle of a large road project the following year that could potentially impact his business.
“The city was working on a road project the year after we opened and it would basically shut down most traffic access for the project duration,” Banka said. “We were and still are incredibly blessed to have such a caring, dedicated, and understanding client base because they still took the time to come see us. The city also did very well to help direct traffic to our corner, so we still had enough business to keep our doors open.”
The other major challenge the barbershop had to overcome was something every other business battled with as well. COVID came through and according to Banka he had to shut down for three months but was able to re-open with mask policies in place. He struggled in the same manner as many industries did at the time.
“We basically did what he had to do to keep our doors open and keep our income coming in,” said the entrepreneur. “These guys are doing this to feed their families and pay their mortgages, so the bottom line was making sure we could continue to operate.”
“Of course, not everyone liked having masks involved but we have extremely understanding, respectful, and responsible clients that knew what we had to do to stay open,” he added.
As restrictions lifted business started booming according to the owner, and he expects to add more clients as barber shops in general have been on an upward popularity trend for several years. This is for multiple reasons, but barbering also stimulates more aspects of the local economy.
Census data shows that the industry was on a downward trend between 1992 and 2012 dropping nearly 23 percent. Other statistics from the National Association of Barber Boards of America show an estimated 10-15 percent growth in barbering by 2017, and numbers show an industry boom across the United States since then.
Barber shops, and hair care in general, is a business that can’t really be impacted by e-commerce, because people can’t get their grooming done online. Commercial landlords love that, because it almost guarantees a certain level of foot traffic as a barber shop in essence sells an experience rather than a product. That is exactly what Banka looks to do moving forward.
“I just want to maintain the current course and continue to provide the services and experience we provide,” Banka said. “We have built an incredible team of barbers down here, and we just want to continue taking care of people every day.”