“How you look is very important in the African-American community,” says Salem’s Bennie Yows. “The first thing you get to a new town, you go to a church and ask, ‘where can a brother get a haircut around here?’”
In Salem, Yows says, the answer is Q’s Corner Barbershop, at 651 High St NE., Suite #5. Q’s is the only African-American barbershop in town.
Serving clientele of all races since 2005 in a welcoming, relaxed atmosphere, Q’s five chairs are filled every day of the week. There is often a waiting list, and men and boys, feeling at home, enjoy the pool table, big screen TV and music.
Owner Q Roberts grew up in Portland and spent several years as a boxer. An original painting of him in the ring hangs near the pool table, but the sport wasn’t what made him happy.
“Yeah, I boxed for awhile,” he says, “but what my life is based on, is here. It’s the other guys, it everybody being here that makes the shop work together.”
Q and the other barbers agree that every day in the shop passes quickly, and every day is different. Customers and barbers chat easily in the warm, casual space.
“I love cutting hair,” Q says. “It’s always interesting, it’s always making me smile. Barbers are many things; they’re life coaches, they’re doctors, they listen when you need it. And, they make you handsome.”
Though most of the clients are men, women are customers, too; Ferro does everything but braids, Eugene specializes in color and perms.
Customers come early to enjoy the relaxed ambiance. Grant Wiege says he visits the barbershop twice a month, but adds, “I’d come in every week if I could. I always leave here looking better than when I came in, and I honestly get very good conversation. It just makes me feel good.”
“I like helping people get a nice haircut and having their motivation go up,” Q says, looking around the busy shop. “You may get married this next week or get a promotion. Or, just believe in yourself and be happy.”