The Lab Barbershop (Review)0
I recently had the pleasure of trying out the new barbershop in Downtown Lake Wales called The Lab. The review will surprise you…
The Lab has a modern feel to it and even though it hadn’t officially had it’s grand opening yet (as of the writing of this review) there was still a steady flow of business. It’s got a sleek, modern feel to it and after getting a cut I was impressed. Here are the best and not so best things about this Barbershop.
1) Modern American Sports Theme
One of my favorite things about The Lab is the modern feel and American sports theme. An American flag is proudly displayed along with sports photographs and flat screen TV’s. Over the years I’ve gotten cuts from the Eagle Ridge Mall, the JC Penney hair salon (before it closed), a barbershop in Winter Haven, and many times at Great Clips. It dawned on me long ago that since women spend so much more money on their hair than men, everything is geared to them.
This Barbershop gives a guy a place to get a real man’s haircut. If you’re looking for a new place to get your barbering done, The Lab is worth checking out.
2) A Capable Barber
The barber who cut my hair did a fantastic job. He’s been cutting hair since he was a teenager and I could tell he took pride in what he was doing. I don’t know the last time I got a haircut and thought the person was really trying to do a good job. Usually, it feels like they’re trying to do a really fast job and undoubtedly they probably are. Similar to turning over tables in the restaurant industry.
This wasn’t the case at this barbershop. The barber definitely saw his success as dependent on repeat business and the success of the shop; not as just another job. I don’t know how many times I’ve walked in to get a cut somewhere and walked out with something that wasn’t done quite right. Just because I’m a man and I won’t spend $75 on my hair doesn’t mean I want to roll the dice when I pay for a hair cut (by the way, if you’re a man and you do spend $75 on a cut, go here and tell them you want the $75 special. I’m sure you’ll get the royal treatment for that price.)
3) An Authentic Barber Experience
If you’ve never had an authentic barber cut, The Lab is the perfect opportunity for you. This was the first time I’d ever had my hairline around my neck shaved with an old fashioned razor. If you’ve seen any mafia shows, you will feel like you’re a big time crime boss. It’s relaxing and the barber takes his time to get it right. After the initial haircut came the face shave (not with the straight blade) and after some perfecting of my sideburns, I was all set.
4) Value for the Money
All these features add up to a great value. Your haircut is going to cost you about the same as it is anywhere else you go. Usually men’s haircuts are like children’s haircuts, they don’t differ too much in price. The added value of having that manly sports bar theme with flat screen televisions, an authentic barber doing the work, and and some serious chairs makes all the difference.
Whether you’re coming from Babson Park, Lake Wales, the Eagle Ridge Mall, or Warner University, this shop is in the perfect centralized spot. Even within the downtown Lake Wales business area it is in a good spot. Located on Orange Avenue Across from the Lake Wales Care Center thrift store, there is plenty of parking and you don’t have to deal with the traffic of E Park Avenue and E Stuart Avenue. It’s convenient to pull in from Alt. 27.
Before or after your haircut (or while you wait) you’re also in walking distance to the downtown area so you can work off some of that gut (nothing personal, it’s just where we men tend to put on the most weight). If you’re a sucker for a deal you can also check out the Care Center store across the street. Don’t laugh, sometimes they have some barely used items at steep discounts.
I won’t say much about this because I’ve touched on it above. But I do want to mention the quality of the haircut one more time. This article was written over the course of two evenings. I did half yesterday (after getting my haircut) and finished it up today. So my first interaction with the world after getting a cut was today. Last night, this review didn’t have it’s own section on quality. However, today I was complimented four times on my haircut without any prompting from me whatsoever. Usually, one or two people might ask if I had a haircut or had my “ears lowered” or some other silly remark. But today I was told four times how good my hair looked. I work at a school and I was even told that my hair looks “clean”. I’m pretty sure that’s a good thing but who knows these days.
7) The Chairs
These chairs are solid and comfortable. Plus they look “clean”. Imagine that. They remind me of that wonderful recliner I refuse to get rid of. A necessary evil that wives just can’t comprehend. A comfortable chair is a necessity, not a luxury. Not much to say other than the fact they are great chairs, but they needed to be on the list.
Barbershop cleanliness is also a necessity and not a luxury. I was there the first week they opened so of course it was clean, it hasn’t had time to get dirty. By clean, I mean actually clean in the traditional sense of the word, not some teenage lingo to mean good. I would imagine the owners and barbers would keep a tight reign on this moving forward though. They certainly have a good set up to manage it because each station basically has their own area with cabinets and storage space.
9) Future Expansion Plans
When you walk in The Lab, there is currently an entry way or doorway into the back that is not accessible. But you can tell that about a third or half of the square footage of the barbershop is not yet being utilized. I asked my barber what the future plans were and one of the ideas that’s being kicked around is an indoor golf simulator. I’m not a golfer, but that would certainly be a great way to pass the time while you wait. Hopefully this or some other great idea will come to fruition concerning the usage of that space.
Now that we’ve covered the 9 best things about The Lab, let’s take a look at what needs a little extra kick to make it pop.
The… Not so Best
1) The Waiting Area is Lacking
The only thing that probably needs some help is the sitting area. You can see above that there isn’t much in terms of furnishings and had there been a line of customers, it would have been a bit uncomfortable because of the size. If there were four barbers working (total capacity) and enough clients to keep them busy, the current Lab set up may be a bit small. However, with four barbers they may be able to keep up with the pace of walk in customers. Time will tell.
Hopefully they will add some more seating and maybe a few magazine racks or end tables. Overall though, The Lab is a great addition to the Lake Wales Community and downtown area. It’s a refreshing change to see a new barbershop instead of a salon opening up. Hopefully the community will embrace it.