By Sue Botos
Walking into Rocky River’s new Sports Clips, it’s a bit like looking in on the ultimate man cave.
Chairs in the waiting room of the haircut shop in the River Plaza on Detroit Road look like red ballpark seats. They face a flat-screen TV, tuned to ESPN, which hangs above a “tail gate” magazine rack that features titles such as Sports Illustrated and Men’s Health.
More big-screen TVs hang above each stylist’s station, which are flanked by lockers that store supplies. A black and white tiled sign in the back of the shop shows the way to the “showers.”
“We don’t really have showers back there,” manager Denise Kane told a visitor recently. She added that this is the shampoo area, where customers can relax in massage chairs and receive an old-fashioned barber-shop-style hot towel treatment.
Sports Clips has been open for a few weeks, and Kane said the business looks to be a home run, already tallying some repeat customers.
The franchise, locally owned by Lori Yeager, aims “to create a championship haircut experience for men and boys in an exciting sports environment.” Kane said that no chemical procedures such as hair coloring are offered, and styles are not finished with blow-drying. However, customers can receive the MVP treatment; a tea tree shampoo while seated in a “European style” massage chair and a hot facial towel. “Some guys are just more comfortable in an environment with no chemicals,” she added.
Kane said that new customers receive the MVP treatment at no extra cost, while returning clients can add the service as an upgrade from the “Varsity” haircut. The “Starting Line-Up” also includes “Junior Varsity” cuts for children and “Senior Varsity” cuts for seniors.
Kane said that Sports Clips has over 1,100 stores nationwide and is beginning to expand in northeastern Ohio. Through company and client donations, since 2007, Sports Clips has contributed almost $2 million to the Help a Hero program, which gives U.S. service members the chance to keep in touch with loved ones through the VFW’s Operation Uplink. The company also sponsors a scholarship that provides active-duty service members and veterans funds to pursue an education or job training.
Kane said the sports atmosphere is welcomed by men who may not care to the feminine atmosphere of many salons. “We always have a local game on and it’s comfortable. Guys can chat with other guys,” Kane added. In addition to regular cosmetology training, she said stylists take a one-week “Guy Smart” course, specifically tailored to men’s haircutting.
But the shop won’t turn away a female client willing to forgo a few frills. “We do some women. They bring their kids in and see them getting the MVP treatment, and they say, ‘Sign me up!’” Kane said.
All that’s missing are the hot dogs, Stadium Mustard and a cold brew.