barber shops toronto

Prices at Toronto barber shops could soon go way up

Prices are rising for lots of things in Toronto, and the cost of a cut at your local barber shop is quickly becoming one of them.

As supply chains and businesses try to bounce back from lockdowns, everyday prices are being raised, and barber shops that were locked down months longer than some other kinds of businesses are taking control of what their stylists can earn.

Glassbox owner Peter Gosling points out that barbers are very skilled people with a specific set of talents and responsibilities, and typically work on 50 per cent commission. Appointments at Gosling's shop are usually about an hour long and involve "precision-based haircutting."

When he opened the shop five years ago, he was charging about $35 per haircut, but has now raised prices to $50, and says there haven't really been any problems with the change.

"People were truly missing us," Gosling tells blogTO. 

He says he just wants to help support young people to grow their talent and pay what can be astronomical rent in Toronto, and prioritize quantity over quality, saying some stylists will take on 18 or 20 cuts appointments in a day sometimes to make ends meet.

Gosling has also had people say they couldn't come back, but has done his best to troubleshoot any issues with the price increase. The shop offers sliding scale pricing that starts at $25, makes regular client lists aware of price increases, and can suggest other stylists at the shop or possibly even make exceptions for longtime regulars.

Many people have been happy to pony up, though: the first two weeks back Gosling says people would drop $200 tips. Now, he says, tips have evened out to stylists normally making at least $100 in tips every day.

Crows Nest raised their prices by $5 once they reopened after the second wave of lockdowns, not only to rebuild what they'd lost but also to cover new costs.

"Reopening with less clientele allowed through our doors as well as even more supplies needed to be able to follow proper covid rules meant we were going to be in a tough spot," Crows Nest managing director Heather Jean Lyle tells blogTO.

"$5 increase in services was the least we could do to just keep us and our barbers afloat in such tough times."

Nite Owl proprietor Brian Hurson thinks their increase is totally justified, and feels higher prices at barber shops are pretty much inevitable.

"We're still charging $40 for each service. We don't charge more, for example, for the beard trim/hot towel shave service. Currently, that includes tax, which comes out of the 40. However, this is likely to change at some point, and we'll have to add this on separately," says Hurson.

"Everyone is happy at the shop and feels safe, and is grateful for the business, but there is definitely an extra workload nowadays that wasn't there beforehand. And from the shop's point of view, the margins have gotten very thin so we are seeing this as a transitional time."

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