By Amelia Favela
Old Town Barber Shop is a traditional men’s hair salon located in the heart of Old Town Monrovia. Living up to its name “Old Town” Barber Shop, the business holds tight to the classic setting of the Hollywood Golden Age by being filled with vintage décor and iconic images.
Owner Gabriel Vaca works with a staff of nine barbers to provide a variety of men’s grooming services. Members of the family-like staff include flattops specialist John Salazar; former barber instructor Tony Perez, who focuses on traditional gentlemen’s haircuts; Joe A.K.A. Pep Garcia, who is also a former barber instructor; Gilbert, whose main skill is regular cuts; straight edge facial shave specialist Max; all-around-barber Casey Harrington; Carlos Mata, who is popular with the customers; Ralph Carillo and Sam.
As a former barber at his brother’s barbershop, Vaca knew he wanted to someday own his own shop too. Vaca achieved that goal when he purchased Old Town Barber Shop; formerly known as Alexis Barbershop, in 1995. Over the years, Vaca has managed to go from utilizing only one station to now having six stations. “I started with one chair, eventually got the second and third going … and now I have six chairs total,” he told us. Vaca’s diligence has proven to pay off, as he will now be celebrating the shop’s 20th anniversary later this year.
Some of the services offered at the shop include facial shaves, military flats, gentlemen’s business cuts, traditional cuts with taper backs, medium conservative haircuts, and even fauxhawks. According to Vaca, the regular clientele you can find at the shop usually consists of ethnically diverse middle-aged men. However, the business offers “first hair cut” certificates as well as a senior citizens’ discount, so children and senior men can also be seen visiting Old Town Barber Shop on a regular basis.
As with any barbershop, the company struggles when business is slow. “If there’s not enough customers, people aren’t making their paycheck, that can be a struggle … but most of the time, we’re fine,” said the owner. Vaca has turned to social media as a solution by creating an Instagram and a Facebook account that allows him to interact with customers and promote the company.
Although a casual atmosphere, Old Town Barber Shop works diligently to uphold a professional, clean environment. The barbers remain consistent by always being on time and remembering their customers’ usual cuts and styles.
The ultimate goal of Vaca is to relocate the business into a building of his own. He said he would move forward with purchasing his own property, which he hopes will be in Monrovia, when he feels the time is right, “If God opens the way, I will pursue [buying] a property.” Till then, Vaca and his crew will remain in Old Town Monrovia, providing barber-related services to the best of their ability.
Contact Old Town Barber Shop at (626) 358-4310, visit them at 111 E. Lemon Ave. Monrovia, CA 91016, or find them on Instagram @OldTownBarbers.