Haircuts in Kent are a matter of style

Steve Bushong

Haircuts are strange. You walk into an unfamiliar building, sit down in an over-sized padded chair, get draped with a cape and quickly find yourself just inches from a stranger who is holding razor-sharp blades of steel.

Getting your hair cut can be a frightening experience, especially if you don’t know the barber or stylist. For this edition of the Summer Kent Stater’s Rate It! series, I visited two salons and two barbershops near campus. So sit back and relax, as I cut the guesswork out of getting your hair trimmed.

Susan’s Hair Design

Scissors are utensils. Like forks, most do the job despite their make or model. So when you’re getting your hair cut, the important aspect is not material. This is beneficial to Susan Faust of Susan’s Hair Design, because her barber chairs were the least comfortable of any I sat in. But Faust herself makes up for the chairs’ shortcomings.

Susan’s Hair Design

Location: 360 E. Summit St.

Phone: (330) 673-6400

Price: women $22, men $15

Stater rating (out of five): ****

She smiles, she listens, she talks about the Edwin George paintings on the salon walls. She’s magnetic.

Co-worker Meghan Krutz said she’s like a counselor.

“People sit in the chair and belt their hearts out, and Susan will listen and give advice,” Krutz said.

Situated in a windowless room on the first floor of Kentway Apartments, Faust’s salon – and psychotherapy center – is small, cozy and clean. It’s kind of like a closet, she said.

While Faust has been a hairdresser at her current location for 12 years, she has 28 years of experience total, she said.

Though the salon is located in an apartment building that houses the elderly, Faust said customers of all ages are welcome. Appointments should be made in advance.

Christian Edwards Hair Salon

Christian Edwards Hair Salon off East Summit Street has just one employee, Michelle Cobbin. She said she can do everything at once: a haircut, a perm, a massage and a shampoo. She said all it takes is a little prayer.

Christian Edwards Hair Salon

Location: 203 E. Summit St.

Phone: (330) 346-0943

Price: women $15, men $10, kids $8

Stater rating (out of five): * * * 1/2

“She’s got magic scissors,” said Kim Carey, a client of Cobbin’s.

Cobbin, who was born and raised in Kent, spent 13 years cutting hair in Akron before returning to Kent.

“There was a need for a black hair salon, because we didn’t have this for us,” Cobbin said.

Cobbin cuts all types of hair and opened Christian Edward’s three years ago, during what she described as a turbulent period in her life.

“I really want to give thanks to Christ for giving me the ambition to go through all the struggles with a smile,” she said.

Optimism seems to be Cobbin’s mantra.

“It’s all a learning experience,” she said.

Walk-ins are accepted, but appointments are appreciated, Cobbin said.

Pennington’s Barber Shop

If Susan’s is like an organized closet, then Pennington’s Barber Shop in downtown Kent is like a garage. But the mostly male clientele of Pennington’s probably enjoys the Harley Davidson in the waiting area and the other auto memorabilia scattered about the shop’s walls.

Pennington’s Barber Shop

Location: 150 N. Water St.

Phone: (330) 673-4517

Price: $12

Stater rating (out of five): * * *

But haircuts aren’t about material things. They’re about people. And father-daughter combo Bill Pennington and Angela Taliaferro bring personality and clippers to Kent.

Taliaferro, who grew up in and around her father’s barbershop, said people come to Pennington’s for good conversation and for the “getchya in, getchya out” kind of service.

She said haircuts at Pennington’s are done short with clippers, which is why women don’t tend to frequent the 30-year-old business.

“This is an anti-fu-fu shop,” Taliaferro said while putting the finishing touches on a short haircut with her razor.

To make up for their no-fluff attitude, Taliaferro said she does a little something to the chairs every night to make them comfortable.

“I plush the chairs,” she said, smiling.

I could have guessed. Pennington’s big red chairs are comfortable in a way no other chair could dream to be.

No appointments are needed at Pennington’s, as walk-ins are accepted.

Emory’s Barber Shop

Emory Vance owns a barber shop in downtown Kent. He, like Cobbin, is the only employee.

Emory’s Barber Shop

Location: 147 S. Water St.

Phone: (330) 673-5126

Price: $9

Stater rating (out of five): * * *

When I walked into Emory’s, Vance was sitting alone in one of four barber chairs, quietly reading a magazine.

So I sat down in the chair next to him, one that dates back to the 1930s, and asked Vance why people come to his place.

“A lot of them have been coming for a good while,” Vance said. “I’m just trying to cut hair like people want.”

It’s as simple as that for Vance: Wait for a customer, cut his hair. I guess once you’ve been cutting hair for 35 years and have built up a loyal clientele, it can be that simple.

“It’s kind of old fashioned, I guess,” he said.

I didn’t ask why there were four chairs when there was only one of him. But I will tell you that despite their age, the chairs were comfortable, and so was speaking with Vance.

He’s frank. He’s modest. And he charges only $9 for a haircut, which is the cheapest cut in town. Unfortunately, no ladies are allowed. Walk-ins are the usual.

Contact features correspondent Steve Bushong at [email protected].