With all Illinois adults eligible for Covid vaccines and more than 10 million doses already given, Barrington businesses—many already enjoying renewed springtime momentum—are primed to welcome back even more customers.
We just checked in with the crew at 18|8 Barrington, the popular upscale barbershop, to see whether the vaccine rollout was having an impact.
“Without a doubt,” Kristina, a master designer at the men’s salon, told us. “Clients I haven’t seen in a year are suddenly back, saying ‘I just got my shots.’”
The business is making no significant changes to its safety protocols, including mask and handwashing requirements, employee temp checks, and capacity limits. But owner Jeff Eggert says business has returned to 80 percent of its pre-pandemic peak, and he and his staff are feeling more upbeat and forward-focused.
Eggert recently hired a photographer to capture a number of 18|8 services that the salon is reintroducing and starting to promote. For example, clients can now request express face treatments or a nose waxing for the first time in more than a year. Later this month, they’ll once again be able to recline for a straight-razor shave.
“Hopefully it won’t be long before we can serve our guests a cold craft beer again,” Eggert says, noting that current state restrictions prevent him from doing so. By the end of May, he hopes the salon will otherwise be operating at full service.
That would be a welcome step toward normal following a year that was anything but. Prior to the pandemic, business at 18|8 Barrington had been humming along. The salon, which bills itself as a modern men’s barbershop, had grown from five to eleven barbers and stylists since opening in 2015. Eggert says his business had back- to-back record months in January and February 2020. “Things were rocking,” he says.
Then came March.
The salon locked its doors, like many Illinois businesses, and didn’t reopen until June. Even after reopening, the business had to contend with restrictions on the number of stylists and hesitation among customers to return for their monthly “executive haircut” or “gray blending” service.
But business has really picked up this spring.
“Companies are getting back to business travel and face-to-face meetings instead of Zoom calls,” says Emily, an 18|8 master stylist and barber. “My clients want to feel cleaned up and look sharp.”
Her regulars are coming back regularly again. The days of fixing those well- intentioned at-home haircuts seem to be ending.
One customer who had waited a year before returning for a haircut recently left the salon a 5-star review online. “First-class operation,” the customer wrote. “They bend over backwards to provide a safe environment.”
Eggert says he has taken a cautious approach. Recently, more clients have been requesting maskless services like shaves and face treatments, which are permitted under current state guidelines. Eggert says he feels the time is right to bring those services back. After all, in their own small way, they “can make men feel better about themselves.”
“I think people need that right now,” he says.
About 18|8 Fine Men’s Salon & Barber Lounge
Located at 120 South Hough Street in the Village of Barrington, 18|8* is committed to creating an experience unlike any other for their guests. They combine the best of the traditional barbershop and the upscale salon. With their semiprivate stations, comfortable barber chairs, relaxing environment, and friendly staff, Eighteen Eight is the perfect escape from the rigors and stresses of the outside world. Guests become like family and walk out with a little extra confidence both in their daily lives and before important milestones and events. learn more at 188Barrington.com.
* 18|8 is a featured 365Barrington partner. If you’d like to see your business or event featured here, call Liz at 847-691-3150.