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Fashion Stores

Terminal Barber Shop 2

Posted by Staff / Posted on February 3, 2011

Terminal barber shop 2Terminal Barber Shop 2 has recently sprung up around the corner from the original. When Karim Saaden and Omar Mahrouk bought The Terminal in 2005, the venerable barbershop had been in business for eighty years. They gave it a retro makeover, rewinding it past its founding decade to a clubby, Knickerbocker baroque. They've kept the same theme with their newly-opened location.

While it might seem mad to set up a shop to compete with themselves, Saaden says the reason was simple - they were turning customers away when the tiny shop got busy, and figured that it would be better to send them around the corner than lose their business altogether. The new shop retains the same love of Victoriana and gilt, right down to the century-old reconditioned barber chairs and the polished, ornate brass on the vintage cash register, but there's a lot more room to move.

century-old chairs at Terminal 2 barber shopA few years ago, it looked like the old school barber shop was going the way of the hatmaker and the cobbler, but fresh blood has been entering the business, both from young cutters more interested in being barbers than hair stylists, and an influx of immigrants who learned their trade abroad, many of them from North Africa (Saaden and Mahrouk are from Algeria) and the Middle East. The latter come from a full-service tradition that was preserved in upscale shops and high-end hotels, and insist that a shave and a haircut is more than a few passes with a straight razor and a buzzing hair clipper.

vintage cash register at Terminal 2 barber shopDuring a morning lull in the new shop - two blocks over, three of the four chairs in the original shop are filled - Saaden tells me that retaining customers is the key to a barbershop's success, and the reason for the satellite location. "When a person comes here and sits in my chair I make sure that person comes back - no matter what it takes."

The prices are a bit higher than the average fluorescent-lit barber shop - $22 for a haircut and $27 for a shave - but the attention to detail is worth it. Saaden offers me a shave, and sporting a coarse, sandpaper-like two-day growth, I know that I'll be able to test him out much better than if I had a full week's worth of fur.

the tools of the trade at Terminal 2 barber shopIt's a methodical process, with alternating applications of cocoa butter, shaving soap and hot towels, with nice little details like the tiny splash of Clubman's floral shaving musk to the first hot towel, just beneath my nose, to cut through the steam and wake me up. At the end I have a close, clean shave, nothing missed, and no hint of rash or razor burn - a stellar bit of work. It all ends with a quick massage on my scalp and shoulders, typical of the attention to detail that Saaden and Mahrouk are sure keeps customers.

As I leave, Saaden tells me their favourite joke: "We know more men who've left their wives than their barbers."

Writing and photos by Rick McGinnis

Discussion

23 Comments

John / February 3, 2011 at 09:11 am
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This is great news.

I go to the original at lunch to get my haircut, but the new one is closer to my work, so I'll give it a go.

Thanks for the review or I wouldn't of known it was there.
Matt / February 3, 2011 at 09:17 am
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Awesome guys. Very professional and meticulous.
Tim / February 3, 2011 at 09:33 am
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I visited the Terminal Barber Shop on Bay a number of years ago, but never returned after a young woman with hair shorter than mine was refused service for being, well, a woman. This may have been before Karim and Omar bought the place. Can anyone confirm?
Jon / February 3, 2011 at 09:47 am
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Great post but i hope i don't expect longer lineups now.
BA / February 3, 2011 at 09:57 am
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@Tim - Recently I was in (the original) when a woman wanted a buzz cut, she wasn't refused service.
Marion Cobretti replying to a comment from Tim / February 3, 2011 at 10:08 am
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Hey Tim. Here's you: "Waaaaa, they won't let girls in." "Waaaaa, they're not nice to everyone." Here's everyone else: "It's a men's barber shop. Having women in there destroys the vibe and it's purpose for being." What is so offensive about having this one place to ourselves?
LJ replying to a comment from Marion Cobretti / February 3, 2011 at 10:10 am
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you are lame Tim, waaa indeed.
nice pics
Mir / February 3, 2011 at 10:42 am
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any info on their sanitation processes?
Marion Cobretti replying to a comment from Mir / February 3, 2011 at 11:13 am
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Yes Mir, I researched this critical information, and they do, in fact, have a strict sanitation policy. "If it's brown, flush it down. If it's yellow, let it mellow."
theuntoldcity / February 3, 2011 at 11:47 am
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a story we did on terminal barber shop a year ago...in video: http://vimeo.com/9361445
nate replying to a comment from Tim / February 3, 2011 at 12:10 pm
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"I visited the Terminal Barber Shop on Bay a number of years ago, but never returned after a young woman with hair shorter than mine was refused service for being, well, a woman. This may have been before Karim and Omar bought the place. Can anyone confirm?"

It says in the article Karim and Omar bought the place in 2005. Did you go before or after that date?
J.Rai / February 3, 2011 at 03:21 pm
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I've been meaning to check this place out for a while now and this article reminded me to. I went for a lunchtime cut and only waited for one guy to finish and got my seat. This place seems like the real deal to me, friendly and skilled and classy. Thanks for the reminder that is exists.

P.S. Karim mentioned you being in there yesterday. I told him how to find the site and he says Hello.
Sean / February 3, 2011 at 04:48 pm
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Wow, good story and a classy place as well.

I'll give it a try in a couple of months.
Sean / February 3, 2011 at 04:50 pm
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Wow, good story and a classy place as well.

I'll give it a try in a couple of months.
Moi / February 3, 2011 at 05:01 pm
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DITTO...for crap sake ...it is a retro MEN'S Barber Shop.....
Women...get over yourselves....
JD / February 9, 2011 at 09:06 am
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Alright, so I've been a loyal customer for about four years, even with the price hike and expansion. Still worth it. Except last four times, I didn't get Karim or Omar and got Aziz. All four times, got what I didn't want. Make sure to ask for Karim or Omar.
angie / November 16, 2012 at 01:00 am
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Sigh why is there always someone who wants to force people to go against their beliefs to get their own way? They should actually offer to do her hair but say only if she agrees to allow them to do it while observing the requirements of their faith... Which means they have to cut her hair without physically touching her and with their eyes lowered or covered... Not sure what kind of look she'll get as I doubt there are too many barbers who could do a good job without looking...
JB / November 16, 2012 at 01:06 am
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Is this the most over-rated and over-priced barbershop in Canada?

The barber I had (one of the owners) was so busy speaking in French to his buddy that he misunderstood what I wanted and gave me a brush cut. I came in with about 4.5 inches of hair and left with 1/2 inch! He didn't bother clarifying such an incredible change in length, just ran his buzzer right down the middle of my head, so it was irreversible. When I saw a huge hank of hair fall in my lap I looked up in horror. When I asked him what in the hell he was doing he had the brass to get angry with me, saying I wasn't clear. Well excuse me, but I was speaking English, not French or Arabic or whatever their first language is.

Any barber--even a complete newbie--should have asked twice before making such a radical change. IT TOOK 5 MONTHS FOR MY HAIR TO GROW BACK!

With regard to their refusal to serve a woman....I think if they choose to disregard Canada's laws on discrimination because it doesn't suit their religion, then maybe only Muslims should go to their crappy barbershop. I hope they like brush cuts....

Want a great barber? Try the Little London Barbershop at Donlands & St. Clair. I've been six times and always very happy with the cut and the service for $16!
JB / November 16, 2012 at 01:07 am
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Is this the most over-rated and over-priced barbershop in Canada?

The barber I had (one of the owners) was so busy speaking in French to his buddy that he misunderstood what I wanted and gave me a brush cut. I came in with about 4.5 inches of hair and left with 1/2 inch! He didn't bother clarifying such an incredible change in length, just ran his buzzer right down the middle of my head, so it was irreversible. When I saw a huge hank of hair fall in my lap I looked up in horror. When I asked him what in the hell he was doing he had the brass to get angry with me, saying I wasn't clear. Well excuse me, but I was speaking English, not French or Arabic or whatever their first language is.

Any barber--even a complete newbie--should have asked twice before making such a radical change. IT TOOK 5 MONTHS FOR MY HAIR TO GROW BACK!

With regard to their refusal to serve a woman....I think if they choose to disregard Canada's laws on discrimination because it doesn't suit their religion, then maybe only Muslims should go to their crappy barbershop. I hope they like brush cuts....

Want a great barber? Try the Little London Barbershop at Donlands & St. Clair. I've been six times and always very happy with the cut and the service for $16!
jameson / December 14, 2012 at 11:52 am
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I definitely agree, these places are alright. But I have no idea why there so popular when it can be hit or miss.
mark / January 3, 2014 at 11:43 pm
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I moved to downtown toronto six months ago from waterloo its really hard to find a good barber specially the old school one I googled and found the terminal barber shop i surfed there website and read some reviews wonderfull experience i had the guy who did his here was very .experienced trained and educated in london england he gave me awsome haircut i like it greati must say I was very knowledgeable and suggested me a product for myhair type thanks terminal barber shop 2, I will be back for sure.
Andrew / June 14, 2014 at 09:19 am
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i've been going here for years. started with one barber, tried both of the owners and have settled with another guy. it's great that you can usually just walk in and get a cut at most times during the week. i'm looking to move on. they don't listen. they don't take their time. they only really do one kind of clipper cut. they 'expect' 5 dollar tips. they are too expensive now. they've been spoiled by their professional local clientele of Doctor's, Lawyers and such...
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please find me another barber shop that is not a hipster joint, is unpretentious, but does quality fades...i'm looking for a new barber.
Andrew replying to a comment from JB / June 14, 2014 at 09:25 am
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yes, this is why i'm leaving the shop after years of being a regular client. the price hike and THEY JUST DON'T LISTEN and they rush.

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