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Fashion Stores

Hollow Ground Barber Shop

Posted by Staff / Posted on July 29, 2011

Hollow GroundHollow Ground Barber Shop is where I find Beejay Diona. The last time we crossed paths was when he was waiting for customers on a quiet winter afternoon at Mike's Scissors. A year and a half later, he's a co-owner at Hollow Ground, a new three-chair barber shop just a few blocks away from his old chair.

The shop came about in a rush, after Beejay left Mike's and got together with fellow barbers Dru Barrow and Pernell Patara, Beejay's cousin, to look for a space. Like so many young barbers, they'd been collecting barberabilia from junk shops and online auctions for a few years, and wanted a place big enough to show it off. They also didn't want to leave their neighbourhood - that stretch of Bloor between Koreatown and Bloordale that's never really gotten too dire, but is definitely in need of a refresh. They ended up across from O Nosso Talho, the Portuguese butchers, in a storefront once occupied by a day spa, and conveniently plumbed for hair washing sinks.

After a quick renovation that exposed the brickwork and opened up long-covered windows, they had a soft opening in May and a grand opening party last month. Right now the space seems too big for the trio, even more with the unfinished patio at the back that they're ignoring as long as the heat wave lasts.

Hollow Ground Barber ShopBeejay shows off some of their finds, including a military wall clock and a pair of seats from the Winnipeg Arena (he's a Jets fan, overjoyed at the team's return) and we settle in for a shave. It's a warm day, which means sensitive skin and a beard made more coarse and wiry by the humidity, so Beejay liberally lays on the hot towels. He starts with a skin cleanser, then applies the shaving foam by hand, since brushes increase the risk of infection.

Hollow Ground BarbersEvery stage is bracketed with a hot towel, and Beejay works slowly and carefully. When he's finished with the razor he adds witch hazel and some Neutrogena post-shave gel, explaining that he doesn't like to use aftershave - the alcohol only increases irritation. It all ends after the final towel with a quick dash of Clubman talc, an especially kind touch considering the humidity outside.

Hollow Ground BarbershopBeejay and his partners have tried to price their services competitively, with a haircut for $22 and a shave for $25, around the average price for a specialty barbershop. Their price list also includes full head shaves ($30) and quick shape-up trims ($12,) and they welcome women in their chairs. They want to help revive the neighbourhood barbershop, and Beejay insists that the straight razor shave is the ultimate test of authenticity.

"It's a barbershop - you need to have a shave."
Outside Hollow GroundWriting and photos by Rick McGinnis



The Real Johnson / July 29, 2011 at 12:40 pm
Where did you get the information that applying shaving foam with a brush increases the risk of infection? Everything I've ever read/heard re: straight-razor shaves suggests that hot towels, then shaving oil, then foam applied with a brush is beneficial given that it lifts and softens your beard and decreases the risk for ingrown hairs and skin irritation.

Also, does anyone know if any of these boutique barber shops serve beer? Seems to be the one thing that's missing.
rick mcginnis replying to a comment from The Real Johnson / July 29, 2011 at 12:49 pm
TRJ - It makes sense - nobody sterilizes their brush between uses since it would likely destroy very expensive brushes, and especially if it's used to re-apply foam after a first pass with the razor, it's very likely going to pick up blood. Brushes are great for shaving at home, but at a barbers you have to watch for the risk of infection every time.

The Garrison serves beer, and the new barber in the Bay downtown had applied for a license when I was there. (But they didn't do shaves.)
The Real Johnson replying to a comment from rick mcginnis / July 29, 2011 at 01:19 pm
I guess that does make sense. And thanks for the tip re: the Garrison. A little out of my way though.

I guess I'll just have to drink and give myself straight razor shaves at home. That can't possibly end badly.
Sean / July 30, 2011 at 03:51 pm
What??? $30 for full head shaves?
JealousBones replying to a comment from Sean / August 2, 2011 at 12:50 pm
It's a hot towel straight razor head shave, $30 is definitely reasonable.
thomas / December 24, 2011 at 12:38 pm
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Kev / May 29, 2012 at 10:27 am
This shop is a peach. It certainly looks the part and the boys running it are all nice and friendly. I had a persian guy named Arien (??!!) cut my hair and I can only say that the service was more then attentive. Oh and all for 22 bucks. What a steal!
Simon / August 15, 2012 at 08:23 am
This place is awesome. The shop is classy and so is the service. As well the price is reasonable.
Abdul / June 7, 2013 at 12:02 am
This place is ok and hair cuts aren't too bad. They don't appreciate their customers unfortuanatley for them and us. I went there one day well before they're clos
Abdul / June 7, 2013 at 12:12 am
Well before their closing hour and they turned me away says that the were done receiving customers, I went back a few days later about and hour or 2 before they close and the guys did the same thing by turning me away. I read online of many people complaining an taking their business some where else. I won't be taking my business there any more either. Turning away customers , very disrespectful specially twice and well before closing hours.
I hope people in that area don't put up with this BS! As take their business some where else! Their whole system their is bullshit anyways. The owners must be real stupid for turning away many customers just so they dot stay that extra 10 min.
Johnson replying to a comment from Abdul / June 23, 2013 at 06:53 pm
Go earlier next time, maybe you should learned that the first time around. As well, whining because they won't stay open late just for you ?? please. I'd like to see how happy you would be if some doorknob made you stay late at work every day.
Michael / July 23, 2013 at 12:39 pm
Just moved in that area,im looking for a new barber who can do a caesar and a good lineup all the way around and beard,goatee lines as well...Has anybody had that done at this shop,i noticed the t liner so maybe they might know what theyre doing...
John / October 23, 2013 at 03:09 pm
I believe I've had my haircut here by all of the current staff. They are super friendly, and cuts are always awesome. The price point is excellent as well.

The only issue I have with it is that since opening - it's become increasingly difficult to get a haircut in a reasonable amount of waiting time. My last effort a few days ago? 3 hour wait time. That is absolutely ridiculous. Every time I've asked about it, the staff usually shrug their shoulders and say they can't find the right people. There's two empty stations in the back of the shop with 8 people in the waiting room and another 20 people on a list.

Guys, hire staff. Groom them if you have to. Customer service includes your ability to service customers in a reasonable amount of time and you getting a failing grade every time. All it will take is for a shop to open up nearby and you'll wish you had taken staffing more seriously.
Jacob / October 23, 2013 at 03:59 pm
I live down the street and used to go there a lot but waiting for 2,3 or even 4 hours every time is not cool. They really need to hire more people.
C-D / October 23, 2013 at 04:54 pm
I went out of my way, to get a haircut from these guys. Their wait list seems designed, however, for neighbourhood repeat customers. You walk-in or call to put your name on a white board, and it is this name on the white board which holds your place. So all the locals can leave and run other errands, etc., then just return and get their cut. As I waited two hours, I witnessed many people just walk in and quickly get called to the chair. There also seems to be preference given to friends. These are not necessarily bad things, for they maintain a strong base, but they also make it hard to increase that narrow base. This is not a place for a quick cut.
butterdave / October 23, 2013 at 08:51 pm
Really really great cuts here with a great vibe and atmosphere. I've been happy with every one of my cuts.

However these guys really need to setup an online booking system - like Crow's Nest.

Just spend the money on a system. Really, just pay for it. it's that easy.

Here are some pros that will come out of this:

* your staff can better plan breaks and manage their time
* you can better manage your time
* your customers will grow and can plan their time accordingly. They don't have to commit so much of their day to just getting a freaking haircut. It really is quite ridiculous.


* it takes some work and money to get it going...alas the investment would pay off handsomely
* it would tarnish your brand of a lo-fi, casual place ??? i guess?
* if it ain't broke don't fix it? don't be lazy
John Dough / November 7, 2013 at 03:22 am
Not sure where all these bad comments are coming from, but to the guy who is complaining about being turned away 2 hrs before close -- what would you have perferred? Them to let you wait 2 hours and then tell you at the end "we cant give you a haircut"? Go earlier next time.

These guys are busy for a reason, and if u have such a huge problem with waiting 1 hour for a haircut then go to chinatown and get a cut for $5 or go to appt based barbershops.

These guys are all laid back, respectful and real, no flakes here... they genuinely like what they do and are kind to all customers. There is no attitude from any of the barbers, and it's not pretentious at all.

As for the haircuts i would say they gave me the best cut i've ever gotten, the guy took i'd say about 40-50 mins to cut me up... 10/10

Eazy-E / November 11, 2013 at 10:25 pm
Easily the best cuts Ive ever received. used to live in the area now coming from north of steeles on saturdays for well over a year. Many have told me im a sucker for blowing almost my entire day waiting for a cut, this is why planning errands are important when getting a cut here as mentioned above.
At the end of the day, their system is not optimal for the average customer but its working well for them and people who appreciate an excellent cut at a good price will be willing to sacrifice some time.
Matt / November 29, 2013 at 04:23 pm
On a whim I called up for a cut and drop in. I'm an hour and a half away from these guys and they are willing to get me in on a last minute call. Pretty great experience so far.
Spec / January 12, 2014 at 02:28 pm
This place offers some of the best cuts in the city bar none. The guys are all chill, it's a nice environment, they include the requisite straight razor cleanup, and the end of the day they really take their time.

I first visited them from roughly a month after opening, and was a regular customer right up until the recent past; but I've vowed not to go again until they fix their broken system.

As others have mentioned above the "put your name on the list" process they have in place is simply ridiculous. To expect customers to only be able to get on the queue by visiting the shop in person, and then plan their day around a hair-cut, enduring up to 2-3 hour waits for a haircut is just poor customer service. Considering how long these wait times have been steadily increasing, not attempting to find a solution is lazy and is a real disservice to loyal customers. Honestly what is the point of listing your service hours, when you regularly don't take customers within the last few hours of your hours anyways?

BJ and the boys your better than this. They're super busy for a reason and I love much of their overall mantra, but you need to fix this broken system before a competitor enters into this emerging neighbourhood and takes away all your business.
JB / May 14, 2014 at 11:35 pm
Obviously the ones complaining about wait times are fairly new to Barber Shops. I mean "real" Barber Shops, not Top Cuts, First Choice or even some dead local shop that only has one barber. And don't say I've been going to Barber Shops for a few years, that's still newbie to me. I've been going to Barber Shops my whole life. I've been raised on making a day out of going to get your haircut because the Barber Shops were always busy. The good ones anyways. From Scarborough to Eglington West, which you complainers probably have no idea about and couldn't even name a Barber Shop in either of those areas. And don't give me "I didn't live in those areas" cause I didn't either. I'd travel to them to get a dope haircut. Hollow Ground is busy for a reason.....great haircuts. All y'all complaining about the wait or the list was too long and I couldn't get a cut and saying that the service is bad and their system is broken, the easy solution is to take your business to a less busy Barber Shop or take your ass back to Top Cuts or First Choice....simple. Or maybe you'd rather have them take 15 minutes on your cut and rush it so they can fit in more people. Quality over quantity. Why do you think they have so many loyal customers. Let's face it, appointments don't always work. Our generation is rarely on time for anything. So your ass being late throws everything off for everyone else that has appointments. Say I have a important meeting to go too. I have to be late because your ass got caught in some TTC delay. Anyways, if y'all don't get it, y'all never will. Quit your bitching!!
Andrew replying to a comment from thomas / June 14, 2014 at 09:10 am
i'm interested in purchasing clippers for a good price. contact me. thanks.
Scrub / June 26, 2014 at 10:16 am
Jorge at Hollow Ground - that's good haircut! Thanks bro!
Matt / July 21, 2014 at 05:21 pm
I would stay far away from Hollow Ground. I've been in once and called twice, been turned away every time. I'm talking anywhere from 3-4 hours from close. When I went into the shop in person it was 2 in the afternoon and I got turned away because of "no space." Ridiculous.
Pbj / July 25, 2014 at 01:03 am
Anybody know what happened to the guy who used to work here less than a year ago? He was tall kinda big asian guy with sort of long hair, usually worked the third seat. Someone at the shop told me he opened his own barber shop, so I'm wondering if anyone knows where that might be. He used to give me a good cut and had this product I forgot the name of which I want again.
Pbj / July 25, 2014 at 01:05 am
And seriously quit the bitching. It is a busy place because it is a good place. Write your damn name down and go do something in the meantime it should not be that hard to wait.
MJ replying to a comment from Pbj / August 12, 2014 at 02:33 am
hey his names Pernel.
He just opened kings landing on college st. in-between bathurst and spadina
Jonathan / August 23, 2014 at 12:09 pm
Good place. but be there before 10am, there is already a queue formed up outside.
paul mann / November 3, 2014 at 01:55 pm
Great atmosphere, love the decor and the antique barber shop chairs and fixtures. Also, the guys working at very nice. However, I must be honest, for 30 dollars my haircut was below what I expected and to top it off I want two hours and and half. Who has that amount of time to get a cut? I live in the Neighbourhood and have been looking for a barber..the hair cut i received at a old barber shop across from ossington station ( on ossington) was equally as good as this place and I only wanted 15 minutes at a cost of 10$.
Miles Smoljo / February 14, 2015 at 03:18 pm
Hollow Ground has been my barbering home for over two years now, and for my money, they're the best barber shop in Toronto. Expert barbers, reasonable prices, and although they mostly have a younger clientele, they are warm and welcoming to members of the greying crowd like myself. And they give the best straight-edge razor shave I've ever experienced, and my sensitive skin has bested some old-world master barbers over the years. Highly recommended!
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