A business owner in Buchanan has found a way to both fulfill his dream of owning a barbershop and preserve a piece of history.
Mark Young opened the doors of his storefront, Buchanan Barbershop, in 2016. In doing so, Young became the latest in a string of barbers who have operated out of the building at 179 White St., which shows up on some maps as 179 Factory St., since it first opened in 1968.
“We have pictures on the wall that go back to when it first opened,” Young said, gesturing to black-and-white photographs of the original owner,
Young has also worked to incorporate other pieces of history into the 50-year-old shop, including a barber chair that dates to 1910 and the store’s original mirror that hangs on the wall. He’s also included himself in the story, adding photos of his son standing at the storefront and a yellow toy car for visiting children to play in.
While Buchanan Barbershop offers traditional barber services, like hot towels, classic military high and tight haircuts and straight razor shaves, Young said he is also working to grow his female client base.
“Many women are tired of paying high prices for a shampoo, cut and blow dry, when all they want is a haircut,” he said. “Here, all haircuts are $17, except for kids and seniors who get a discount.”
Before embarking on his career as a barber, Young worked as a journalist, but that industry’s changing landscape left him without a steady paycheck. “I was on unemployment,” he said.
Young decided to take advantage of a government program that offers money to those looking to retrain. “The career had to be in demand,” he said. “Barbering and hairdressing was in demand.”
While the two careers may not seem closely related, Young felt many of his skills could translate to the new profession.
“I figured being a barber was just like being a journalist. People come in and they talk to me,” he said. “But as a journalist, if I picked up a straight edge razor, I’d go to jail. Here, they give me money.”
Young then took the 9-month course and became a certified barber in 2009. From there, he worked at a number of chain salons in the area, including Great Clips and Supercuts, before working for a barber in Mahopac.
“I decided I wanted to open up my own shop,” he said.
He began what would become a years-long search for the perfect location to open up his own venture.
“On my days off, I would drive around Westchester looking for a one-person barbershop,” he said. “In a one-person shop, you’re not going to make any real money. It’s really a job more than a business. When the barber died, the shop died, so I’d stick a note under their door asking, ‘Do you want to sell your shop? I’m interested. Are you looking to retire?
Let me know.’”
Young said he dropped off more than 60 of those notes over a two-year period, but it was a drive through the small village of Buchanan that led Young to his shop’s future home. “I saw this shop and it looked like it was abandoned,” he said.
After speaking with nearby shop owners, Young learned the previous barber had passed away just a few months prior. Young later contacted the building’s landlord and has now been a tenant of the storefront for nearly two years. “It’s been a long hard slog,” he said. “You’ve got to establish yourself.”
Still, Young said he believes the barber industry is seeing a resurgence, and the history of the shop has helped boost his business. Many patrons have been visiting the barbershop Young now occupies for decades, some since they were children.
“I love working here,” Young said.