I’m probably biased in naming Collins Barber Shop the top black barber shop in town, but that’s how I feel. Actually, at this juncture I’m not even sure if there’s another one, though I figure there has to be.

I’ve been going to Collins since 1975 when we first moved back to central New York, and it seems most of the players haven’t changed. The barber in the foreground is the elder Collins, and back in the day he was the only one Dad and I had to cut our hair. These days I have my hair cut by the barber behind him, Eric, and it works well because I have no idea how to tell him to cut my hair except to try to make me look good. My wife approves, it seems.

There is an interesting culture within a black barber shop, and I can’t say if it’s the same at other barber shops, but I know it’s not the same at chain barber shops. People just stop by a black barber shop and talk. It becomes more of a meeting place than just a barber shop. I see familiar faces here and there when I show up, but most of the time there seems to be at least a couple extra people in there just talking to the folks cutting hair, and sometimes just talking to each other. When they get to arguing sports, watch out! lol

As you can see from the second picture, there’s also an interesting history behind the place, as well as a goal. Mr. Collins has trained all his sons on how to cut hair, and now a couple of his grandsons also have been trained to cut hair. They own this little building that kind of sits out there alone at 309 South Crouse Ave, with many medical building around them and a few small restaurants close by. In the summer there’s this barbecue set up at the corner; one of these days I’ll have to show up later so I can try it out.

These guys support the Syracuse community, especially the black community. Upstairs his wife and daughter-in-law handle women’s hair; talk about keeping it all in the family. It’s a comfortable place to be, and if you want, you can get a shave or even get your hair colored as well. The price is reasonable as well, only $12, and I’ve seen other folks in there other than black people. Hey, once a barber, always a barber for everyone.

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