Owner of Good Guys Barber Shop in Fulton discusses investing $100,000 to start and grow his business
By Stefan Yablonski
Harrison J. Noel III has been barbering for about 17 years. He owns the Good Guys Barber Shop in Fulton, located at 501 S. Second St. (next to Fajita Grill on 481). His business partner, Keith Raymond, owns the shop in Oswego.
Q: How long have you been in business?
A: I opened this location July 1, 2020. Right after the world shut down!
Q: Why did you decide to go into business?
A: I had been in business for myself at different points throughout my career and have been affiliated with the Good Guys since its inception in 2014. I have always wanted to open a shop in my hometown and it seemed like the timing was right. Boy was I wrong! I had to open with all of these restrictions and mandates. Although it was difficult, we worked through it and this community has welcomed us beyond my belief.
Q: Do you have background in this line of work?
A: Yes. I have been a master barber since 2006. I attended barber school at Shear Ego International School with Maria Fustanio. I also studied under Bill Hoefer, a long-time Oswego barber and Tony Borsetti, a Long Island transplant, who owned a barbershop in Oswego.
Q: How much did it cost to get started?
A: About $100k.
Q: Did you have to buy or renovate your building?
A: Both. My business partner bought the building and I renovated the space.
Q: How has your business grown?
A: We’ve grown a tremendous amount since we opened in 2020. We were lucky enough to have a built-in customer base grown from our Oswego location. Since then, we have grown to service all area communities and have about doubled our business.
Q: Do you have a lot of repeat customers?
A: We have great retention and this is definitely something that I pride myself in. It all starts with a great crew, which I feel blessed to have. I believe that any one of my guys will offer a great cut along with a good experience. Because of this, people keep coming back!
Q: How many employees do you have?
A: Eight: six barbers and two apprentices.
Q: What is your busiest “haircut season”?
A: “Haircut season” definitely is a thing. The big ones are back-to-school and major holidays.
Q: What are some changes you’ve seen in the profession over the years? Has technology had an impact?
A: This profession has changed dramatically, from the haircuts themselves to the tools we use. I believe that the internet and different social media platforms allow trends in hair and fashion to move very quickly. People often get inspired by photos they see online. Due to this, however, the standard has been raised as have people’s expectations. It’s great for the trade and keeps us motivated.
Q: How hard was it to get the business on its feet?
A: Due to the pandemic, very tough. It was more the uncertainty of opening. I had been building out this space for a few months already when the world shut down.
Q: Who has helped you along the way?
A: I’ve had so much help along the way. My wife, Monica, has been my right hand during this whole process. She has dealt with many late nights and weekend mornings training my guys. She even became a barber!
Q: What is the best or worst part(s) of the job?
A: I would say the best part of my job is the relationships I’ve forged along the way. I’ve met some of my best friends and a lot of them have become more like family over the years.
The worst part of my job is probably the long days. It’s harder work than you’d think and then to be away from my family, it’s tough.
Q: What is your business philosophy?
A: My philosophy has always been if you put out a good product and create a good atmosphere, you’ll be successful.
Q: Speaking of trends, do people still get buzzcuts?
A: All this being said, there are plenty of traditional haircuts that will never go out. And we definitely do a lot of those!
Q: How do you stay current on all of this?
A: Every year, I take all of my guys to the largest barber convention on the east coast, the CT Barber Expo. It’s events like these where we are able to continue our education and current hair trends.
Q: If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?
A: I honestly don’t know. It’s all I’ve ever done. I did want to be a journalist when I was a kid and studied English at Brockport for a short time before I really found my place in barbering.