BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - A historic barber shop in Birmingham’s Woodlawn community may not be history after all.
Dan Sartain is leasing the old Hippodrome Barber Shop, which closed last summer following the death of longtime owner Vincent Oliver.
"It was facing just being shutdown, boarded up, possibly turned into a different kind of business other than a barbershop, and I just hated to see that," said Sartain, who's spent a lot of time in the shop over the years.
Oliver was his barber for 20 years. Sartain said when he was a child, he and his mother would pass the shop everyday, and he would tell her he wanted to go there. Eventually he badgered her into taking him to Hippodrome for a haircut.
"I came in and just instantly fell in love," reminisced Sartain.
He had a connection with Oliver over music. In the 1950s, Oliver played the saxophone and recorded with a band. Sartain plays the electric guitar. He has recorded several albums and toured across the U.S. and Europe.
"The market for me is drying up in my music career, and I've been feeling a little helpless as to what to pour myself into with as much passion as I did music." explained Sartain. "I think this is the right thing. It feels like home already."
Sartain is determined to keep the same prices, same name, and same atmosphere. He is also determined to honor Oliver's legacy, who owned the shop for nearly 52 years. He's hired Birmingham artist Paul Cordes Wilm to paint wings and a halo over Oliver's name on the old sign in the window.
"I want to be a part of this community and do what Vince did," continued Sartain. "I feel like people around here need an affordable barber shop that's unique and offers something different."
Before opening, Sartain needs to hire a Journeyman Barber with credentials in Jefferson County to work along side him.
"I would like to hire a barber who upheld the standards that the previous owner did," said Sartain, who hopes Oliver is proud of what he's doing.
“This was a barber shop for over a hundred years, so, it was open a good while before Mr. Oliver took it over,” explained Sartain. “I don’t see it having the potential to be much else other than a barber shop.”