This category covers establishments primarily engaged in providing barber and men's styling services. It also includes barber colleges.
Cosmetology and Barber Schools
This industry is primarily focused on furnishing hair care services for men and saw dramatic changes in the second half of the twentieth century. In 2002, there were 4,060 barber shops in the United States, a drop of 9 percent from 1997. By comparison there were more than 73,933 beauty salons. Many of those salons cut men's hair as well. Barber shops had an estimated $506 million in revenues in 2002 and employed about 13,048 barbers and other workers. The majority of the establishments in this industry are sole or joint proprietorships that reflect a bygone era when most consumer's needs were met by shops in the town square. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, barber shops faced stiff competition from a growing number of no-frills unisex facilities whose sales continue to increase annually.
Most barber shops are located in older commercial districts of both urban areas and small towns. They serve an almost exclusively male clientele and are generally owned by a single person, the proprietor, who is usually a middle-aged male. All barbers must attend a barber college for a specified training period that varies from state to state, and they must pass a state licensing examination.
The service of providing men's grooming is more than 2,000 years old. The practice of trimming men's hair and beards began in the Macedonian area around 400 B.C. and then spread to Egypt and other countries. The word "barber" is derived from the Latin word for beard, "barba." The first people to hold themselves out as experts in the trade appeared in Rome about 296 B.C. However, in both ancient Greece and Rome, barber shops were seen as places of ill repute because men from the upper classes were groomed privately by servants. Throughout the centuries, men's beards were seen as symbols of intelligence and strength and were sometimes cared for quite meticulously. In Elizabethan times, for example, they were often dyed various hues and trimmed into unusual shapes.
For centuries barbers were highly skilled in the unusual adjunct profession of medical surgery, which they learned from monks during the Middle Ages. Barbers performed work that surgeons refused, such as bloodletting, leech attaching, and...