On Aug. 3, The Green Room Barbershop celebrated the grand opening of their new location at 728 Belmont Ave. W. in Kitchener. The barber shop originally opened in December 2019 in a commercial plaza that is scheduled to be demolished and replaced with a condominium complex.
Co-owner Eddie Stannard said they always knew their first location had a set end date, but they wanted to use that time to build their customer base. Public health measures that limited how businesses like barber shops could operate impacted those plans, but Stannard said their new location is a chance to become part of a growing community of businesses on Belmont Avenue.
“We lost that time due to the pandemic. We didn’t get to use it for events, we didn’t get to have live music, we didn’t really get to expand in the direction we had planned,” Stannard said.
While plans for the original location involved live music events at night, the new location’s layout provided the team with an opportunity to pivot the business. The front of the barber shop now features a coffee bar that is designed to bring in people who are not necessarily looking for a haircut.
“We’re not the first barber shop in the world to ever have a coffee shop, but it just complements our business. It really opens the door to say we’re here for everybody. We’re seeing a lot of people who wouldn’t typically come here now coming in and enjoying our space,” Stannard said.
Opening in Belmont Village was part of the original plan for the barber shop before they went with the King St. W. location. Stannard said that they had looked at the exact same unit three years ago that they are in today.
“We just love this stretch of town. It has a great vibe, community, and parking situation. Belmont is where we felt we could plug ourselves in. It’s already an established community with cool businesses moving in here. We just wanted to be a part of what was going on,” Stannard said.
Belmont Village is home to over 70 independent businesses, including business services, restaurants, bars, bakeries, pharmacies, and a yoga studio. It was this combination of established businesses and newcomers like Lady Glaze Doughnuts and Arabella Park Beer Bar that attracted The Green Room barbers to the district. He said that the team have received a warm welcome from their new neighbours.
“All the neighbouring businesses have already accepted us. They’ve already made an effort to be our friends and get involved with what we’re doing, including supporting the coffee bar,” Stannard said.
Belmont Village has gone through its share of changes since the first businesses, a Brewer’s Retail outlet, opened there in 1951. Stannard said he hopes The Green Room Barbershop will help bring new business to the district while supporting existing businesses.
“These newer businesses are coming, but there’s also these old staples that we need to protect. The Checkerboard Restaurant is a straight-up time capsule and is amazing. A lot of big developers are buying up land, and it’s going to continue to change as they jack up their rents. But I think there’s this really cool meld of the old and new happening right now,” Stannard said.
In addition to reaching new customers, the move to Belmont Village opens up opportunities to participate in festivals and events, including this month’s Belmont Village Bestival. Stannard said Belmont Village BIA has already invited them to join in on events throughout the year.
“We’re fired up for the opportunity to collaborate with other businesses on the street. There’s definitely a community here. We knew when we opened this place that we really wanted to shoot for the moon and do everything we were hoping for. This is really our dream barbershop. The last time, we built what we could. This time, we built what we wanted.”
Alex Kinsella is a freelance content marketer and writer based in Waterloo Region, Ontario. He's behind the TL;WR newsletter–Waterloo Region's weekly events newsletter. He's worked with some of Canada's most well known tech companies in roles including customer success, development, product management, PR, social media and marketing. Alex has contributed to publications including BetaKit, Grand Magazine and more.