Even more surprising than happening upon new men’s salon Gent at Victoria’s Crossing in St. Paul on Saturday: the place was hopping. One guy practiced on the putting green out front while a group of groomsmen sipped mimosas and watched sports highlights on the flatscreen. They were waiting for wedding day straight razor shaves.
The owner’s story is a familiar one: Local guy, unsatisfied with discount barber shops, but uncomfortable in girly salons. He’s created an upscale, masculine setting with haircuts starting at $29 (gray “blending” starts at $35). The staff includes both barbers and stylists. The salon is stocked with man toys: drinks, iPads, TVs.
Seems like a great idea, yet similar concepts for men have failed. One of the main Twin Cities competitors at the moment, Raze – with two west metro locations, is backed by behemoth Regis Corp.
Still, Gent has a great vibe. I like the decision to place it on Grand Avenue in St. Paul, where shoppers embrace local and men often get short shrift. What could give Gent that extra edge is retail. The front of the shop features cuff links and Leatherman tools. Grooming lines include Jack Black and Joe. Nothing too fancy or fussy – just cool stuff for men who care. Yes, guys, it’s cool to care. 867 Grand Ave., St. Paul, 651-797-4294