Centerville’s Bancroft Brothers hair salon rebounds after pandemic
CENTERVILLE – A barber pole twists in front of the Bancroft Brothers barber shop in Centerville. Just inside the door to the 800-square-foot boutique is James Bancroft, manager, host, and father of the five brothers whose store is named after.
There’s Robert, 31, Matthew, 30, Nicholas, 26, Benjamin, 25, and Lucas, 22. Everyone has a job outside the Cape, but it’s the board of directors that makes the decisions for the Centerville hair salon.
The decision to open the store was made by James Bancroft and his father. Bancroft is diabetic. A car salesman for years, he had to find a job or business where he didn’t have to stand for long periods of time. He envisioned a multitude of possibilities, but realized that his business would have to be Internet and Amazon-proof.
Bancroft’s father, Robert, contributed by example. The patriarch of the clan grew up with six brothers. The family didn’t have much money and when the boys needed a haircut his father would take them outside to have their hair cut.
“Soon he was cutting hair for the other boys in the housing project,” said Robert Bancroft.
The idea of a hairdressing salon made the list of business opportunities for Bancroft.
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Other factors supporting the business also came into play. Le Barbier de C-Ville, a barbershop that occupied space at Centerville Plaza, went bankrupt when the owner retired. And the village had no other hairdressing salons.
Finally, the idea of creating a long-lasting family business won over Bancroft and his five sons.
“They wanted to make sure I had a job,” Bancroft says with a laugh.
The company opened on Memorial Day in 2019. Bancroft hired three employees to provide the haircuts, beards and hot shaves advertised by the store. He showed Jessica scissoring a customer in one of the five chairs in the store.
“She fell from the sky,” Bancroft said.
In fact, she showed up one morning in her pajamas, coffee in hand, to look out the window of the new business. “I didn’t think they were open,” she said.
Sam’s station is next to the towel warmer. Bancroft hired Sam on the advice of a friend. Tammy was recruited after Jessica suggested her. Now the three are sharing space and camaraderie while cutting hair at the corner store.
It takes time to start a new business and Centerville Hair Salon is no exception. When COVID-19 hit, Bancroft lost half of its customers. But they are coming back with the economy reopening and that makes him optimistic about the future of the barber shop.
“The business will live for 100 years,” he said. He expects it to take its place among Cape Town’s other sustainable businesses. The large clientele gives him hope.
“Our demographics are cradle to grave,” he said. “We’re going to cut hair for kids from one to 101 years old. It’s the way we operate here.”
He told the story of a 2 year old entering the store, asking for Sammy. “We’re legendary with children’s haircuts,” he joked. “A two year old and he asks for his barber. ”
There have been some hard lessons learned about running a family business. Of the 28.8 million small businesses in the United States, 19% are family businesses according to the Small Business Administration. Family ties make their challenges unique.
Family business consultant Don Schwerzler said there are three main systems at play in a family business: ownership, management and family. “These three systems have to be in balance,” he said.
Planning is important from both a succession and management perspective, Schwerzler said. “Who’s the boss? Do they have ways to resolve disputes? Who’s in charge on site?” He asked.
James Bancroft does not call himself the manager on site, although he is at the store every other day. He sees himself as a host. It doesn’t tell employees how to cut their hair or what products to use.
“Has Red Auerbach ever shot a basketball? ” He asked. Auerbach was the coach of the Boston Celtics who brought Larry Bird and other Hall of Fame basketball players to Boston. “My specialty is finding good people.
There have been a few issues along the way and Bancroft hears his board / sons whenever something comes up. Matthew is President, Robert is Vice President, Nicholas is Secretary, Benjamin is Vice President of Marketing, and Lucas is Treasurer.
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Matthew called him twice on the mat. Bancroft was berated for the approach he took when a young employee left abruptly. Another time, Bancroft posted something on social media that was unsuitable for Matthew.
“He asked me to remove the message immediately,” Bancroft said. “I was told to check with him before posting anything on social media.”
Family is the bond that unites businessmen and brothers, but it is also the theme of the store. Framed black and white photographs line the walls. A wall is dedicated to the brothers of the Bancroft family – organic or not.
There are pictures of brothers standing side by side showing off new haircuts. There are photos of friends at the beach, at baseball and hockey games, fishing, and dressed up for weddings. Exchange students, neighbors, classmates and even strangers fill the frames. Bancroft wants the frames to fill every square inch of wall space.
“We have a small circle of brothers,” he said. Now, when the brothers come in, they’ll take their photos on the way out. “We will continue to add photos to the wall. ”
And Bancroft is working on a jingle for the company. He sent a project to his sons.
“The best fit at the lowest price. The Bancroft brothers. They will treat you well. They will treat you well.
The thinnest cut at the lowest price. The Bancroft brothers. They will make you beautiful. They will make you beautiful.
The vote was unanimous, Bancroft said. Expect to hear it on a local radio show soon.
Contact Denise Coffey at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter: @DeniseCoffeyCCT.