New Montgomery barbershop wants to bring races together
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The sign above Reggie Miller’s head says “Golden Shears & More.” There’s an emphasis on the “more” - and not just because of the new downtown barbershop’s spa or billiard room.
It sits along a street that was once lined with minority-owned small businesses, steps away from what used to be the blacks-only entrance to the Kress building in segregation-era Montgomery. Now, it’s a spot that Miller, a black graduate of Robert E. Lee High School, envisions as a gathering place for people of all races.
“No matter if you’re black, white, whatever you are, we want you to feel comfortable about coming here,” said Miller, the barbershop’s owner. “We have different barbers of different races.
“Montgomery is a beautiful place to live, and we want to be able to allow this spot to kind of work on our race relations. I think God has truly blessed this place the way the doors have opened for us and the things that He has allowed to happen in order for us to do that.”
The renovated, 2,300-square-foot space at 22 Monroe St. is filled with custom barber stations, manicure/pedicure areas with personal televisions and wireless headphones, a plush waiting area and a shoe-shine room with a pool table. Former Virginia College massage instructor Marc Taylor operates a spa in a neighboring section of the space, offering a wide range of medical and therapeutic massage, body wraps and scrubs. “We try to cover all the bases here,” Taylor said.
The key to attracting people from all walks of life was to offer all of that at prices comparable to other barbershops around town, Miller said.
It’s an approach that won praise from his first customer, Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange.
“Reaching out to all ages and all races, this could be a melting pot of what Montgomery is,” Strange said. “Reggie’s serious about doing what he can do to make relations better.
“When you don’t see color, that’s when we’ve arrived. Unfortunately because of the events that are happening in the world today, particularly around the South, we’re seeing some color. We need to be that ‘one Montgomery’ that we’ve talked about for so many years.”
As a crane lifted building materials to workers on the Kress façade nearby as Miller thanked family and friends before opening the doors. The scene made Taylor’s mother, Valda Harris, reminisce about the businesses that once lined Monroe Street.
“They’ve all been torn down for the progress of Montgomery,” Harris said. “For me, (Golden Shears) is an honor because we had family businesses here back in the day.”
Unlike much of the opening day crowd, Leonard Smith isn’t from Montgomery. He came in from Atlanta to handle the audio-visual setup.
But he also liked the idea of using the barbershop as a social gathering spot that crosses racial boundaries - at least as a first step.
“I don’t think it would hurt,” Smith said. “Perhaps there are other ways to do it, but this is a great way to kind of open the door for those types of relationships.”
River Region Golden Shears & More is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
Information from: Montgomery Advertiser, http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com