The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

November 3, 2013

Old-school shop, new-school style

By Brandi Underwood
Register-Herald Reporter

— Hinton native Brian Cooper is the new barber on the block in a town that is deeply rooted in the barbershop tradition. A former teacher, Cooper decided to pursue a new career and recently graduated from the Charleston School of Beauty Culture Barber College. He now mans a chair in Temple Barber Shop with 49-year barber veteran Ronnie Sowder.

Forging the way for a new generation of hometown barbers, Cooper said that working with Sowder and interacting with his clients has been a great jumping-off point.

“I couldn’t ask for someone better to learn from,” Cooper said.

The Temple Barber Shop gives a nod to the nostalgia of the mid-1900s, complete with a spinning barber’s pole and cast-iron barber chairs. Taxidermy fills a cabinet on the back wall, and if people didn’t know any better, they might believe themselves to be on a movie set or in a 1950s sitcom set in small-town USA.

Trained in all elements of the barber practice, from shampooing and cutting to beard-trimming and shaves, Cooper said that he wants to embrace the legacy of the iconic barber shop as much as possible, while blending the old with the new to offer modern-style haircuts and old-school straight-razor hot shaves.

After teaching at the middle school and high school levels for several years in North Carolina, when a teaching job opened up in Summers County Cooper moved home to be closer to family.

Over the years, Cooper was the go-to guy when friends and family members were looking for a haircut, so going into the profession full-time seemed only natural, he explained.

After Cliff Cales, owner and operator of Cliff’s Barber Shop, recently retired, Cooper said that the need for another barber in town with flexible hours became apparent. 

“I’m hoping to help fill the void left from his retirement and help meet the demand in the town for a barber,” Cooper said.

Cooper works in the shop six days a week, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. While appointments during business hours are on a first-come, first-served basis, Cooper can set up evening appointments on some weekdays and on Saturdays for those with different schedules.

“I want everyone to know that they can come in after school, after practice or after work and I will have the shop open,” Cooper said. “All people have to do is contact me through my Facebook page if they need to set up appointments after hours.”

“Men don't need to go to the mall, to Walmart or where their wife goes,” Cooper said. “They have an option here at a much more affordable price, where they will receive quality service.”

Cooper hopes that once his business ia better established, he can go back to coaching high school sports like he did during his previous time in the school system.

“I like to remain active in the community and enjoy that aspect of the job as much as anything,” Cooper said, adding that his opportunity to interact with people is one of the best parts of his job.

For more information, including days with extended hours and a list of services, view Cooper’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/coopertemplebarber. He can also be reached by e-mail at coop_b14@yahoo.com.

The shop is located at 309 Third Ave. in Hinton.

E-mail: bunderwood@register-herald.com