The Phoenix Reporter & Item (http://www.phoenixvillenews.com)

Collegeville barber shop doubles as a music club


By E.J. SMITH, For 21st Century Media

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Steve Krauss, owner of the barbershop-by-day, music-venue-by-night American Barber Co., runs a barber shop unlike any other.
The ABC’s individuality begins with its appearance, from the vintage artwork, to the jukebox playing a mixture of classic hits and modern favorites.
Some customers credit the atmosphere as the reason they chose the ABC.
“I think that it’s got a really cool ambiance. It’s a very classic feel,” ABC customer Keenan McAuliffe said. “It really resembles a classic barbershop. It’s a great business that stands for solid values.”
The shop shines bright in the world of generic barbershops, McAuliffe added.
“Nobody really does a classic shop anymore,” he said. “There are a lot of cookie-cutter barber shops that are company-owned, and the American Barber Co. is a breath of fresh air from that. It’s a more personal feel, it’s conversational, and an overall great experience.”
According to Krauss, this welcoming and fun atmosphere is exactly what he was looking for he opened the shop.
“The goal when opening up the American Barber Co. was not only to give great haircuts, which is the bread and butter of the shop, but to create a place where people can come to hang out, relax, and enjoy music,” Krauss said. “We want everyone to feel welcome and be treated like they belong here.”
Once the cutting part of the day is done, the shop turns into a music venue, hosting open-mike nights every Monday and a live performance once a month.
“We feature acts ranging from full bands, including our own house band, Mr. Fuzzy and the Barbarian (featuring Krauss himself), to comedy, poetry and the like,” Krauss said. “We have a built-in stage in the back of the house, and a full PA system, which performers are welcome to use. Unlike a bar, we lack noisy patrons and clanking dishes. People come to watch and listen. It’s a great outlet for seasoned musicians or those just starting out. The crowd is always welcoming and supportive.”
McAuliffe, who has seen his brother perform on Monday nights, agreed with Krauss.
“It’s a really intimate environment. Kids can come and play,” he said. “They can see more experienced musicians and gain motivation and inspiration, it’s definitely something out of the ordinary.”
A shop with such versatility, while fun, does require long hours, however.
“It’s worth it when I see all the great things that come out of here,” Krauss said. “From the barber shop side of things, I love seeing customers leave with a cut that makes them feel and look good. They know that it was worth the wait, and they’ve found a barber they can trust, and when clients come back again and again, it lets me know that my work exceeds their expectations.
“ As far as the music venue goes, the connections we’ve made and the fact that we’ve given people a place to play and enjoy music is worth far more than any hours we might spend setting up the shop, organizing, scheduling bands, advertising or shows, or practicing with our own band.”
Krauss always urges new customers to stop by.
“We always love to see new faces, whether you’re looking for a great haircut, out to hear some new music, looking for a cool spot to hang out, or all of the above, come by!”
The next live performance at the shop will take place on July 20.
The American Barber Co. is located at 323 East Main St., Collegeville, Pa.