Barbershops of America Part 4 - Amherst Ave

Amherst Ave.

Nowadays barbers put a lot of things in their shop to make it look cool or to give the effect that it’s been around a while. They aren’t fooling anyone. Take one step inside Amherst Ave. Barbershop and you know Joe is the real deal. He’s not trying to impress anyone. Doesn’t have to. His shop has been growing for over 50 years.

What you see on the walls has naturally grown over time. He’s not trying to be cool. He just keeps his shop the way he likes it, and at the same time tries to represent the good people that have been coming in there his entire career. A lot of the stuff in there has been gifted to him by his customers. At this point though, you probably couldn’t find the line between customer and friend. On the back wall, you’ll see a sign that states you can’t sue Joe if he gives you a bad haircut. Can only imagine that the sign came out of necessity, but people still happily come to sit in “The Butcher’s” chair. So he’s doing something right. Wouldn’t have made it 50+ years otherwise.

Your first trip to Joe’s shop might be a bit overwhelming. With all that’s on the wall, you might even forget that you’re there for a haircut. And there’s zero chance that you’ll realise Joe doesn’t even have a phone. In a world and industry that’s relentlessly connected to Instagram, that tells you a lot. Like I said, Joe is the real deal. After you get over the initial shock of what you see, and stand around staring trying to make sense of everything, you’ll most likely get a sarcastic comment from Joe. I spent a few hours in there, and still have zero idea of what's going on. Try all you want, you’ll never find a spare inch of wall space. Just doesn’t exist.

And like most barbers, their shop is a direct representation of them. Talk with him for just a couple minutes, and you’ll see there’s a lot going on inside that brain of his. He’s a character among characters. As real and candid a person as you’ll ever meet. Don’t bring an attitude into his shop either because he won’t put up with it. If you’re kind though, he’ll let you hang out all day. And chances are if you stay, you’ll be entertained. Whether that entertainment is listening to the narrative that Joe provides, or just by staring at the walls, you’ll leave happy.

Back in the mid 1800’s Butte became a boomtown that got filled up with people trying to make a buck in the mines. It exploded with 100’s of saloons, and even had it’s own Red Light District. A lot of that has gone and past. It’s a much more quiet town now, so Joe has had to deal with a lot of change. Somehow though, he figured it all out. As one of his customers says, “we’ve got the original here”.
In a place that has gone through so much, The Butcher and his shop have been a constant for 50+ years. They just don’t make too many like Joe. He’s a gift to the town of Butte and the entire barbershop world.