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The Big Debate: Do you Serve Your Guests Alcohol?

by charlottegw / last updated August 27, 2019

serving alcohol barbershops

A welcome refreshment and client perk or a drain on profits and a distraction – what’s your stance on serving alcohol in the barbershop? Two business owners argue their case for and against serving alcohol in barbershops and salons.

For Serving Alcohol

Johnny BaBa, co-owner, Barber Barber UK

At Barber Barber UK, we offer complimentary refreshments including alcoholic beverages at all of our stores with some of our larger stores having dedicated bar areas. In the current market where competition is fierce, I strongly believe that customer experience is everything. These days you can’t walk down a high street without passing a barbershop, so point of difference is essential.

Obviously, by offering alcohol, we are not encouraging binge drinking. It is more about elevating our brand in terms of service. And let’s face it – who doesn’t enjoy a cold beer at the end of a hard day?

Let’s face it – who doesn’t enjoy a cold beer at the end of a hard day?

Even though we offer appointments in our bespoke areas, our walk-in trade remains very strong and therefore waiting times can sometimes be longer than expected. With this in mind, I feel that it is a nice touch to be able to offer a drink (whether it is alcoholic or non-alcoholic) as this helps to make their waiting time as pleasurable an experience as possible.

Personally, I do not drink myself but I see no issue with offering refreshments to our customers. We often have wedding parties coming in to use our services. Offering them a drink adds to the overall experience and ensures that they go away with a positive impression of our brand with the ultimate goal being that they will become advocates and customers.

Against Serving Alcohol

Sid Sottung, director of Haus of Sottung and Sid Sottung Academy

I’m six years sober so that played a part in my decision to not serve alcohol. I run two businesses, one of them is the Sid Sottung Academy and the other is my salon Haus of Sottung. I definitely don’t think alcohol belongs in a place of learning, but I don’t think it is necessary in a salon or barbershop either.

On arrival we offer guests complimentary soft drinks such as elderflower cordial and hot drinks like lattes, cappuccinos and a range of teas. It’s nice to offer refreshments that are a bit more special than bog-standard beverages. In the future I’m looking to offer Rok Soba – a cool non-alcoholic beer.

However from a financial perspective it doesn’t make sense for us to serve alcohol every day. We would have to get a licence and charge for it

If we were holding an event, an opening party or if we had a wedding party booked in we might consider serving champagne. However from a financial perspective it doesn’t make sense for us to serve alcohol every day. We would have to get a licence and charge for it, as giving it away for free regularly would result in a loss of earnings for us.

I think the view that barbershops are somewhere to get your beard trimmed while you sink some beers is going out of trend now. I hope we move away from this ‘Jack the Lad’ image of barbering to be honest. People want an antidote to hipster salons and I think we offer that.

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