Nfld. & Labrador

Business is booming at 1949 Barber Shop, where staff gel with their community

Nestled into one of oldest, working-class neighbourhoods in St. John's, the 1949 Barber Shop has cut in front of the competition.

Since March, the small shop in Rabbitown has grown its staff and laid roots in St. John's

Yaw Antwi-Adjei is a co-owner of 1949 Barbershop located in Rabbitown, St. John's. He's also a graduate student of philosophy in Memorial University. (CBC)

Nestled into one of oldest working-class neighbourhoods in St. John's, 1949 Barber Shop has cut in front of the competition as one of the city's go-to barber shops.

Since March, the owners say they've added more chairs to the floor, and sales have skyrocketed with clients from all over the world — they've got the push-pin-dotted map to prove it.

"Every single day we have new people coming in from different countries, with different language," said co-owner Yaw Antwi-Adjei, who hails from Ghana and is a graduate student in philosophy at Memorial University. 

The small shop, located on Mayor Avenue in Rabbitown, offers international flair with high-profile clients, including basketball players from the St. John's Edge. 

Co-owner Gustavo Valoyes said he loves the social aspect of 1949 Barbershop. "We argue about everything here," he joked. (CBC)

"Business has just taken a new turn. We keep getting so busy," Antwi-Adjei said. 

"We have five barbers working, and everything is OK."

Social club

The shop doubles as sort of a hangout, according to co-owner Gustavo Valoyes who moved from Colombia to Canada in 2003.

If there's a soccer match on television, people will walk in off the street just to talk, without an appointment. 

This map is filled with pins showing where each customer has come from. (CBC)

"I know all my customers, we watch football, we argue about everything here," he joked. 

"That's one of the good parts."

Adding local flair

1949 has even added a local barber, Kieran Driscoll, further adding to the melting pot formula that has garnered the shop so much attention.

"This was actually my community barber shop," Driscoll said. 

"I approached Yaw and Gustavo about starting here as an apprentice. I guess I've always wanted to do something creative, and the guys have taken me under their wing and literally taught me everything I know."

Kieran Driscoll is from the Rabbitown area and an apprentice at 1949 Barbershop. (CBC)

Antwi-Adjei jokes that Driscoll is the only white guy that can properly cut "afro hair" the way they want. 

"He's so good. So good. You don't beat it." 

Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Here & Now