The story of how the Israeli-born Jake Lurman, 66, came to own his own barbershop has been told before: More than 20 years ago, he paid for the haircut of a customer, and that customer bought him a shop. Since then, Jake & Son Barber Shop, which he owns with his son, Michael, is a fixture in the community, not only for generations of men looking for a trim, but also as a place to schmooze.
> Regardless of a person’s background, be kind to your fellow human being. Believe me, you’ll get it back.
> Hair cutting is the same as it was 100 years ago. You use more modern tools, but a haircut is a haircut.
> The longer the hair, the easier it is to cut. The shorter the hair is, the more difficult it is to cut because the slightest mistake will show. The shorter the hair, the better mechanic you have to be.
> When you’re a barber, you tend to be extra friendly to people. You have to like people, but people have problems. When they get to know you, they open up. People need somebody to talk to. That’s why there are psychiatrists. I’m cheaper.
> [Customers] ask me about politics, religion, financial advice. I told numerous people after 9/11 to buy gold, silver. My mother always taught me, whenever there is insecurity in the world, buy precious metals. At that time it was $280 an ounce for gold. [It was $1,665 at press time.]
> There was one mistake I made when I went to barber school. When you go to school, you get people with drugs and alcohol since the haircuts are so inexpensive. Well, I chopped a piece of ear off [a customer], but the person didn’t know what was happening. The gentleman was asleep, he was maybe drunk or something, and the instructor woke him up and said, ‘You had a few ticks removed from your ear.’ He said, ‘Thank you’ and went back to sleep.
> The ’60s were not a great time for barbershops. When the Beatles came into existence people didn’t get haircuts. At one time, there were 6,000 barbershops in the state of Maryland. The Beatles introduced long hair and then there were like 1,800 shops.
> [Cutting hair] is an art. It’s like a painting. When a customer comes in you have to visualize him getting out of here with a haircut before you do it. It’s like you paint a picture of the hair.
> When I do a haircut and it comes out the way I want to, it really gives me a good feeling. That’s what I do with all the clients who come in here. When they leave, I always stare at them to see whether or not things are OK. Ninety-nine percent of the time they are.
> There are a few people that just hang around here. It’s like Mayberry. People come in and spend hours and hours in here just to chat.
> When my son wanted to join me, I said, ‘It’s a hard business. When you work with your hands, you’ll never get rich, but you’ll make a living.’ He stuck it out. I’m tinkled pink.
> It’s so important to love what you’re doing. It gives me such enrichment, rather than monetary riches. If you love what you do and look forward to coming daily, that’s worth all the tea in China. I can’t wait to come in here every morning.
> When I first started, I was very, very shaky. I was extremely nervous [cutting hair of celebrities or rabbis]. As you do it, I don’t care if Obama comes in here or whomever, a haircut is a haircut.
> It’s not like [clients] have to train you how to cut their hair, you have to train them so they’ll trust you. Once they are satisfied with your work, they’ll come back for the rest of their lives.
> I can [cut hair] with my eyes closed — and I did. I had a customer who brought in a youngster — about 12 years old. He had hair down to his shoulder. His father told me, ‘Jake, I was fighting with him for three years to get his hair cut and he’s finally doing it for his grandmother’s birthday as a gift.’ He sat on the chair and wouldn’t you know it, the electricity went out. And the father started cursing. I said, ‘Sir, believe me I can do it in the dark.’ And I did. The only thing was, one sideburn was a lot longer than the other, but I couldn’t see!
> Barbers never retire. They like [the work] too much.