Barbering in Jersey

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Barbering in Jersey

Post by Audi on 18/01/12, 12:11 am

Copy & Pasted from http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Let+Them+Be+Barbers-a01611747615

How regulations in New Jersey are destroying an American institution.

By Gregory Gethard, November 6, 2008 Edmondo Valentino is a neighborhood barber in West Orange, New Jersey, whose barbershop, Val's Hair Styling, opened around the time JFK was inaugurated. Almost five decades later, it is a throwback to the era of sock hops and going steady, a neighborhood gathering spot where regulars can sit back, converse, and leave an hour later, shaved and shorn.

"This is the shop that time forgot," Val tells me on a recent visit, as he cuts the hair of a ten-year-old boy. A nearby Polaroid shows the boy's first haircut, several years earlier. The boy's father, Darren Dangler, is next in line, and got his first hair cut at Val's about 40 years ago. His father, a regular customer, took him too.

These neighborhood barbershops, where customers span generations, have slowly left the American landscape over the years. But in New Jersey, the disappearance of barbershops like Val's is much more pronounced. This is because New Jersey, unlike every other state, no longer offers barber licenses—instead, it requires a license in cosmetology.

At a cosmetology school, prospective barbers just don't learn how to cut men's hair. They must learn about treating women's hair, performing manicures, and all the other tasks performed by beauticians. The predictable result is an exodus of men from the barbering profession. In 1984, before New Jersey stopped issuing barber licenses, there were 4,500 barbers in the state. Today, only 2,200 remain.

The disappearance of barbershops from New Jersey towns doesn't seem like a big deal if you're not a barber (or a shaggy-haired New Jersey man looking for Looking for cheap trim). Certainly there are more grave problems that face the state. Even so, there is something galling about a needless regulation that prevents people from pursuing their profession and deprives consumers of a business they would patronize.

In fact, though barbershops may seem like a relic from an earlier time, the most recent estimate from the National Association of the Barber Boards of America suggests that nationally they are making a comeback. Today there are about 230,000 barbershops in the United States, according to according to their figures—down from a peak of 315,000 barbershops in the late 1950's, but significantly higher than the 190,000 barbershops open in 1980, when the industry bottomed out.

Charles Kirkpatrick, who heads the association, expects that number to climb in coming years. Barber's schools are opening in a lot of states and, for the first time in decades, there are a healthy number of young people in line to replace the aging population of the industry.

As you might imagine, he sees this as a great boom. "The barbershop is the only independent business left in town," he says. "They manufacture what they sell and never have to worry about anybody going to China to get their hair cut. The barber knows the preacher, the lawyer, the doctor and all the people who work at the local plant. It makes him a pillar of the community and a bureau of information."

I'm sympathetic to the pro-barbershop lobby. Unlike most service industry employees, barbers own their own shops. It's refreshing that some individually owned businesses are able to do well in the old center of town, away from the big box retailers, giant shopping centers and strip malls. It bodes well for the idea that we should value the character of a business we patronize, not just its convenience.

Admittedly, the average American may be less taken with the romance of the barbershop. But plenty of American men like a cheap haircut, and would prefer not to spend extra time and money patronizing a fancy salon. Hence the barber boom, and the associated jobs, revenue, and cleaner cut citizenry—benefits accruing to the people of every state save New Jersey, whose laws prevent these happy transactions from taking place.

Why?


Prior to 1984, the Board of Barber Examiners issued licenses to barbers in the Garden State. It had been like that for decades. Then legendary North Jersey power broker Joe Doria, who had little personal stake in the future of barbershops, led an effort to change things.

The legislation he proposed as a young state assemblyman created the Board of Cosmetology, and eliminated separate licenses for barbers. Had it passed as originally written, it would've also forced all existing barbers to attend cosmetology school, never mind if they'd already been plying their trade for decades. It would've killed the profession almost immediately.

A petition drive caused the state assembly to relent, grandfathering in existing barbers, but even they were newly prohibited from tasks they'd done their whole careers, like bleaching hair, giving perms, or clipping nails, unless they passed a written exam or attended an accredited cosmetology program. As for new barbers—well, there wouldn't be any. Only licensed cosmetologists.

Asked at the time why he proposed these new rules, Assemblyman Doria said he'd been prompted by the advent of unisex salons. These places had different safety and hygiene concerns than traditional barbershops, current Board of Cosmetology spokesman Jeff Lamm said. "That was really the reason behind the change."

But barbers thought the decision was purely political. At the time, there were 4,500 barbers still licensed in the state of New Jersey versus 40,000 practicing cosmetologists, tilting power within the industry to the latter group.

"The State Board of Cosmetology is trying to fix something that has never been broken," wrote one veteran New Jersey barber in a letter to the editor published in a 1985 edition of the New York New York Times. "The head of the board is acting in the tradition of all the great bureaucrats that toy with organizations under the guise of the public good."

My own dealings with the State Board of Cosmetology only deepen my sympathy for the barbers forced under their purview. Phone calls to the agency are frequently unanswered. Sometimes, somebody answers and abruptly tells you to call back later before quickly hanging up. Sometimes they place you on hold and leave you there until you give up. Only once was my call transferred to another line—an anonymous voicemail box that, the message informed me, was completely full.

It seemed the only way to interact with the agency would be to go there in person during business hours, an option that would prove a huge burden to a barber trying to run a shop. It ultimately took a trip to the state capital, additional phone calls, a FAX and more than a week to get answers to my basic questions.

Of course, cosmetologists and barbers are not the only workers forced to deal with the state bureaucracy. Over 80 professions require licenses. Almost every job you could think of – accountants, cemetery salespeople, psychoanalysts, and dozens more – have their practices overseen by a board whose members are appointed by the governor. "New Jersey licenses more professionals than most, if not all, the other states," said John Weingart, the assistant director of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University.

As it turns out, New Jersey barbers can't get a license in a state overflowing with them—a situation that State Senator Joe Kyrillos wants to change. He has drafted legislation that would reinstate separate licenses for barbers and cosmetologists. The idea for the bill came from talking to his own barber, who he has used since he was a teenager.

"My barber has been having a hard time hiring people to help him," he said. "I always have to wait a while when I go to his shop because there's no one working the second chair. It just seems to me that we're inadvertently boxing out potential young barbers who simply want to work in a barbershop. It hurts the shops and it hurts the public—there are fewer options because of this law and service is more expensive as a result."

These insights aren't new. Four times this decade, similar measures have been proposed. All of them have gone nowhere. This legislative session, the barber licensing proposal is just one of 80 pieces of legislation slated for debate in the Senate commerce committee. Its prospects are hurt by the fact that there is no barber's union anymore, no political action committee for barbers and no non-profit watchdog group seeking to protect the state's barbershops. The proposal to overhaul the current barber bill is what it is -- legislation that is not very high priority on the state's to do list. And, unfortunately, it looks to remain that way for the foreseeable future.

Back at the barbershop on Main Street in West Orange, that means more customers for Val in the short term, but little prospect that his barbershop will remain a neighborhood hangout 40 years hence, or even after Val retires. It's like he tells his customers: "Don't ever say goodbye, because goodbye is forever."
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Re: Barbering in Jersey

Post by Toot on 18/01/12, 09:27 am

It's just hard for me with my thinking, how things can get so twisted..

Here in Montana, we've had the same govenor for 8 years now. He wears a Flat-Top hair cut. Way back when, he decided that the need for barbers was important and needed some action.

Heck, I can appreciate that thinking.....

But what he did to jump start the policy was to impliment the new 150 hrs. of training that beauticians could take to get a barbers lisence also.

That did in fact increase the barbers in Montana. The thing is, those beauticians who are taking this 150 hr. course can still not do barber hair cuts.

They are going to now increase it to 350 or more than likely 700 hrs. of barber training to get the barbers lisence. That will help..

To be fair, he (the gov) just did not know that the 150hrs. wasn't enough. "That" training was to get the shaving aspect going.

I can only speak for the beauticians I've seen in school, and for the comments from my customers. Heck, my customers don't really even understand....... These beauticians just haven't been trained with clippers. PERIOD.......

My wife could learn to be a great barber, I believe. I believe anyone can, if their heart was in it.. But, she would need to be tought, and once tought, go forth with that passion to excell..

I believe that the beauticians give very good hair cuts, if the style is very full, or long. When planning a clipper cut though, they just don't know cause they've not been tought.. Heck, my hair cuts on longer womens styles would look very shabby, I'm sure. All because I never was tought how. My womans A-Line would look like something that HeartlandBarber did.... Rediculous.. laughing pale

I guess all this rambling comes down to my belief that obviously, the 2 professions are seperate.

A mechanic that specializes in working on Subaru's would be lost if hired as a diesel mechanic. They are both mechanics, and neither one is smarter than the other. They just have vastly different training..

There.. I think that last paragraph says it for me...

Dang... Some times I sure type alot, just to get to the nuts and bolts, huh ?? (shut-up Audi) laughing

Toot
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Re: Barbering in Jersey

Post by saintsfan on 18/01/12, 02:41 pm

Toot wrote:I believe that the beauticians give very good hair cuts, if the style is very full, or long. When planning a clipper cut though, they just don't know cause they've not been tought.. Heck, my hair cuts on longer womens styles would look very shabby, I'm sure. All because I never was tought how. My womans A-Line would look like something that HeartlandBarber did.... Rediculous.. laughing pale

I guess all this rambling comes down to my belief that obviously, the 2 professions are seperate.

A mechanic that specializes in working on Subaru's would be lost if hired as a diesel mechanic. They are both mechanics, and neither one is smarter than the other. They just have vastly different training..

There.. I think that last paragraph says it for me...

Amen brother! That's what I have to tell some of the customer I get in here!

Even though I'm pretty new to the field, my clipper cuts can hold there own in my opinion.
I'm worried that Alabama could go the way new jersey has. One of my goals when I get more established and get to know more barbers from around the state, is to help get our laws reformed. Heck, in some counties you don't even need a license (cosmetology or barber) to open up a barber shop just the money it takes to go down to the courthouse to get an occupational license.
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