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One of Chicago's top barbers opens shop in Bargersville

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At the Belmont Barbershop in Bargersville, there is a barber who works seven chairs.

But owner and barber Josh Cooley isn’t worried about filling those seats or having enough other barbers to cut the hair of locals. Although still somewhat new to the area, opening his shop at 2991 Fulmer Dr, Suite 109, Bargersville, in November, Cooley had quite a reputation in Chicago where he ran a barber shop of the same name. There he won awards for his artistry and attracted a celebrity clientele like racing driver Jeff Gordon and members of the Chicago Blackhawks hockey team.

With this reputation, Cooley is hiring more barbers as they graduate from barber school, and he hopes to provide the same quality service he did in the Windy City.

It’s been a journey of more than two decades for Cooley, which began at Asbury College near Lexington, Kentucky.

“I cut my hair in college,” Cooley said. “I cut my hair a bit in the men’s room, not that I was supposed to, but I decided several years later that I wanted to go to barber school.”

So he went to Allstate Hairstyling and Barber College in Cleveland, earning his barber license after 1,500 hours of training.

“They walk you through different haircut techniques,” he said. “What sets barber school apart from cosmetology is the use of straight razors for shaving. A big part of the business is shaving the face, beard, trims and shaving the neck. I don’t feel like I got it all cleaned up unless I shave my neck.

Cooley worked in a few stores in Cleveland after getting his license, but it wasn’t until he moved to Chicago that he owned his own store, opening The Belmont Barbershop in 2005. The only problem: the city n there were no barber schools. Cooley was lucky enough to meet another barber from Ohio, and the couple recruited people from Denmark College, a barber school in Merrillville. With a unique perspective, Cooley and his fellow barbers have been able to attract new clients, Cooley said.

“There was nothing like us. We were a big hit, younger guys doing old-fashioned barbering,” he said. hair and barbers don’t listen and give one or two variations of haircuts.Barbershops were no longer stylish.Guys with style went to salons.

Soon word spread that barbers in Chicago were making traditional haircuts, and the seats began to fill up quickly. In 2012, the barber shop switched from taking phone calls to an online booking system because there were too many people calling, he said.

“Hair salons weren’t trendy, they weren’t really popular, but we started being trendy and had a big following,” Cooley said. “We got into a lot of different style magazines, GQ, Playboy, Details, it was fun.”

Fox Sports filmed a segment with former members of the Chicago Bears at the Belmont Barbershop, recreating a barbershop scene from “Coming to America,” the 1988 film starring Eddie Murphy.

The work of Cooley and his fellow barbers also earned them articles in Garden and Gun Magazine and the Chicago Tribune. Then come the accolades. The Belmont Barbershop was listed on the now-defunct Details magazine’s Best in America list in 2012, and in 2015 it was named one of America’s Top 100 Small Businesses by Deluxe Corporation. Deluxe also featured the barber shop as one of 10 mini-documentaries in its Small Business Revolution series.

The Chicago store is still open and thriving, but Cooley now works in a less crowded location in a strip mall southeast of Whiteland Road and State Road 135 in Bargersville. He has many of the same items from his old shop, including a giant sailboat sculpture hanging on the wall near the entrance. Although business was still booming up north, Cooley decided to move to Johnson County to be with his family.

“My family left Chicago and a lot of them moved to Colorado, but some moved here,” Cooley said. “I wanted my children to be surrounded by family and cousins ​​while on vacation. Before, I didn’t even have someone to watch the dog. I had friends but I had no family. This field is really exciting for me.

Despite all his success, Cooley said he treats every customer equally and doesn’t like to brag. Without his clients, famous or not, he wouldn’t be where he is today, he said.

“I stood in the same chair in the same place for 17 years,” Cooley said. “It’s the relationships and getting to know people. They are in 20 to 30 minutes each month. They tell me things they don’t even tell their wives. I get to know things over the years in a hair salon.

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