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Paying it Forward

The institution of the American barbershop conjures up images of small towns and neighborhoods and communities like something straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting. It’s weaved into American culture in the way that hard work and apple pie are. Heck, a barbershop on Chicago’s South Side was one of the first places our current President discovered a sense of community, and rumor has it he’s been going there ever since.

A few days ago I was walking around my neighborhood when this sign in the window of the Paul Revere Barber Shop (which I found out has been there for over 100 years!) stopped me dead in my tracks. The shop had already closed for the evening but I spent the rest of the night thinking about it.

The next morning my curiosity about what had inspired such a kind gesture got the best of me and I called Mike. The story goes that a couple of months ago, a customer tried to pay for his “interview haircut” (one of the shop’s specialty services) with pocket-change because he was unemployed and broke. Mike let him off the hook with a “hey no worries, you can pay us when you get the job.” But he couldn’t shake the feeling that this problem “really needed to be addressed” and he wanted do “a little something” to help his community. He’s had twelve takers so far.

Being perceptive to your community’s needs now can help build your brand over the long haul. Just ask Master Barbers Mike and Bill.

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