By MARINA WATERS
When Kevin Armentrout, the owner and operator of Hometown Barber, opened his full service barbershop almost a year ago, there was no question as to where it’d be located. For Armentrout, there’s no town like his hometown.
“Jonesborough needed another barbershop,” Armentrout said. “I knew the business would be here. I wanted to stay in Jonesborough. I didn’t want to be in Johnson City or Greenville.”
Now Hometown Barber, nestled on Jackson Boulevard in Jonesborough, brings in dashing men and young boys alike looking for a fresh haircut, a close shave and a trip back to a simpler time.
Armentrout’s shop is filled with classic country music playing on the shop’s radio, the smell of just spritzed Brandy Spice aftershave wafting from the throwback chairs and the constant lull of small town conversation.
And that’s exactly what he wanted when he envisioned his barbershop.
“It reminds me,” Armentrout said, just finishing a haircut for one of his regular customers. “I wanted to do something that reminded me of the shop I went to when I was a kid in Jonesborough. I like the nostalgia of it. I want a shop where everybody’s welcome, a family shop.
That’s what I always had in my mind if I opened a shop.”
The social atmosphere isn’t the only draw for the owner and operator of Hometown Barber; Armentrout also said hot towel, straight razor shaves and classic barber shop haircuts, though often considered things of the past, draw in customers for many reasons.
“I think you get a better hair cut. And they get to know you better, just being consistent,” Armentrout said. “People just get used to one person cutting their hair the way they like their hair cut. It’s cool to see kids whose hair you’ve cut since they were this big and now they’re in college. That’s pretty neat.
“A lot of people don’t do (straight razor shaves) anymore,” he added. “You have to be a licensed barber to do one. A cosmetologist can’t do one. That’s why you don’t see them a lot.”
Armentrout’s start as a barber was one that happened by chance, however; the shop owner said he was led to a barber school in Knoxville after giving his friends haircuts on a college beach trip.
“I was in college and they cut the program I wanted to study,” he said. “But I went on a beach trip with a bunch of my buddies and one of them said, ‘I shoulda gotten a haircut before we left.’ For some reason I said, ‘I bet I could cut your hair.’ I’ve been cutting ever since. We had a set of clippers somebody brought. I cut all their hair. There was nine of them.
“I said, ‘I guess I’ll go to barber school.’”
After Armentrout had found his calling, he discovered that he wasn’t the first one in his family to cut hair. He later learned that both of his grandfathers cut hair from their home.
“I never knew that until they died,” Armentrout said. “That was pretty neat.”
After relocating his business from another location on Jackson Boulevard, Armentrout said he just about has his shop looking like hewants it to. The walls are already adorned with a framed David Crockett High School baseball jersey, vintage barbershop razors, a stuffed raccoon named Captain Connie and old pictures that used to belong to both of his grandfathers who also shared his love for cutting hair.
But redecorating hasn’t been the only change to Hometown Barbers since its opening last year.
Armentrout said the shop is soon to add another full-time barber in addition to Armentrout and barber Jeremy Crain. He said adding Hannah Shelton, the newest barber at shop, is exciting for the shop and that he hopes that will cut down on wait time at Hometown Barbers.
“When I first opened, I was so busy I was losing a lot of business,” Armentrout recalled. “But now we have more barbers if people want to come back. They won’t have to wait so long now.”
Hometown Barbers is located at 400 W. Jackson Blvd. For more information on Hometown Barbers, call (423) 788-3274.