When it opened in the fall of 2012, Hastings Barber Shop brought an immediate and time-worn presence to the neighbourhood that made it feel like it had been around for years. The cozy shop at the corner of Queen and Hastings has gained a following for its laidback, no-nonsense approach to men's grooming. Original owner Karolina Conroy is a big part of the shop's colourful personality and reputation for quality fades and shaves. And now she's brought on a new business partner in Gary Carroll, who is a regular barber and familiar face at the shop. Together, the duo run point on two locations (the other in Cabbagetown) that keep dudes of Toronto looking better, feeling better (as their motto goes).
HASTINGS BARBER SHOP IS WILDLY POPULAR — HOW DID IT BECOME A NEIGHBOURHOOD FIXTURE SO QUICKLY?
I feel like when you get a few like-minded individuals together who don't take themselves too seriously, and are passionate about their craft, good vibes go around. The barber shop has become a great neighbourhood hub which people want to be a part of. There's no ego and anyone can come by just to shoot the shit and hang out. It helps having the beer store across the street, too.
WHAT ARE GUYS ASKING FOR THESE DAYS?
I always try to convince the guys to grow their hair out. I'm into hair metal and that is evident in my personal taste. However, tight fades and side parts is the majority of what men ask for. I feel like it's about to change, though, into a more grown-out look — I'm looking forward to that.
WHAT CAN GUYS EXPECT COMING IN FOR A CUT?
An easy-going atmosphere with great music, a conversation about HOV lanes, a very good haircut.
WHAT'S THE MOST UNWIELDY MANE YOU'VE EVER HAD TO TAME?
Our client, Monty, had a beast of a beard. It was like trimming a masterpiece every time. I loved it. Then he went corporate and had to shave it off.
WHY DID YOU SET UP SHOP IN LESLIEVILLE?
I originally went into the barber industry with a partner (Roger Janes from Blood and Bandages) who found the location in Leslieville. I wasn't familiar with east Toronto at all. Now I rarely leave it. Weird.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE AREA NOW?
It's changed a lot in the last three years around here. There's a high contingent of young families as well as independent shops creating a real sense of community. It's a great place to be during this time.
WHAT DO YOU DO FOR FUN IN THE 'HOOD?
I don't get out much as I'm a parent and I live out of town. The only place I do ever hang out at is Bill Hicks Bar. It's just my kind of feel and anyone who has spent the majority of their youth hanging out at the Bovine Sex Club would appreciate this place.
WHAT'S NEXT FOR HASTINGS BARBER SHOP?
More haircuts and good times. We opened up a second location in Cabbagetown which was an amazing experience. Our Polish-influenced snack bar is in the plans, attached to the Leslieville location. Other than that I have a million other things I want to do and am focusing on the one-day-at-a-time approach so stay tuned.