Before Jim Valenzuela landed in the barbering biz he had his hand in many fields: securities, commercial real estate, politics and physician practice management. Needless to say, he was a fish out of water with zero experience in the barbering world when he opened V’s Barbershop in 1999 in Phoenix. No doubt his past entrepreneurial experience came to his aid in the development and operation of V’s, but the most paramount, believe it or not, was his first stint as a cowboy. “My main focus in my formative years was as a roper in rodeo,” explains Valenzuela, who now presides as CEO of the franchised chain. “It’s a culture of respect, with yes sirs, no ma'ams, and keeping one's word. In a service business, these behaviors are crucial to sustained success.”
With 34 locations across 15 states and another 21 shops in the pipeline, authenticity and consistency in the brand experience reign supreme at V’s. “There are plenty of places to get a good haircut, but few treat patrons to the full gamut of great sights, sounds, smells and attitude,” says Valenzuela. “When you execute on these and give a great haircut or shave, then you have a winner.” It comes down to the details: From the well-mannered staff to the V’s Barbershop Authentic Tonic scent to the Oster hand massager humming sound that completes each service to the walls lined with beautifully framed photos of the Olympic Flag, iconic sports moments and superstars (some, like Muhammad Ali and John Cena, the shop has even serviced), every guest feels comfortable, no matter the location. Each station houses a personal TV, so gents can flip to their favorite game while they pop a squat on restored Koken, Emil J. Paidar, Belmont and Koch chairs. “We have the world’s largest collection of barber chairs in our shops and warehouse, and we think this item, more than any other, defines the authenticity that we build into every shop,” shares Valenzuela.
While you won’t find spa services on the menu—it’s strictly traditional and modern cuts, hot lather straight-razor shaves, beard trims, and men’s facials—a shoeshine attendant will whip kicks into shape at most locations. “Many years ago, shoe shines were part of the fabric of barbershops,” explains Valenzuela. “When I opened V’s, the only place you could get a shine was at the airport or carwash, so I decided to bring it back.”
Not only do military and first responders receive discounts, so too do fathers and sons. When Valenzuela first set out to build the V’s empire, he reminisced on his childhood days when he would get his locks nipped with his father. “There are few places that a father and son can visit on a regular basis that leave such indelible memories as going to the barbershop,” says Valenzuela, who notes that it was his goal to build a place where he could share the same bond with his son. “It’s magical and the main reason I decided to get into the barbershop business.”
[Images: Courtesy of V's Barbershop]