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A cut above

After dominating the scene in Atwater, Barber Club is looking to change the game once again this time in Turlock.

In late fall, Barber Club opened in downtown Turlock, ushering in a new culture of men’s hairdressing for the area that focuses on a family-friendly environment catering to the city’s gentlemen, while also providing opportunities for future hairdressers through an apprenticeship academy.

The welcoming environment Turlock’s Barber Club has created originated at the shop’s flagship location in Atwater, where co-owners Valentin Horta and Samuel Hernandez achieved a vision that Horta felt was worthy of expansion just down the highway.

“We’re trying to create a sanctuary,” said Horta. “There’s vulgarity that plagues some barbershops — we’re trying to do the opposite. We want to show our clients that here, we’re a little bit different. We’re not here to gawk at women or cuss at everybody…we’re a little more gentlemanly.”

“We’re a barbershop…but we also aren’t. Our aim is a little different,” said Marty Torres, who co-owns the Turlock Barber Club with Horta. “We’re an atypical Central Valley barbershop that offers a blend of classic and modern barbering, and a hairstyling approach that allows us to teach clients how we do hair.”

The chivalrous atmosphere inside of Turlock’s Barber Club is accented by the shop’s rustic, modern décor, but the new business in the heart of downtown has been a long time coming, said Horta, who knew something bigger was on the horizon when he and Hernandez opened the Atwater location four years ago.

Horta always planned on expanding his business, he said, and partnered with Torres to open up a shop in Turlock.

“We just hit it off right off the bat,” said Horta. “We spoke growth, we spoke the same language and I said, ‘Hey man, I’d like to work with you.’”

It took the pair two years of searching before they ultimately decided on Barber Club’s downtown location. Spaces along the city’s main thoroughfares like Golden State Boulevard and Monte Vista Avenue were considered, said Horta, but when a vacancy on downtown’s South Center Street popped up, they jumped on the opportunity.

“Shopping centers, you can find those in any city,” said Horta. “You can’t find something like downtown Turlock anywhere else. I feel like we fit in.”

Since opening its doors, Barber Club has already seen traffic from the downtown area stop into the shop for walk-in appointments, and the location’s apprenticeship academy, directed and instructed by Torres, is already well underway, teaching future barbers the ins and outs of hairdressing.

The academy is a year and a half to two-year program that propels potential barbers into their future careers, courtesy of Torres’ knowledge. After completing 3,200 hours of training, graduates of the program are able to obtain their state barber license. Classes are taught on Sundays, giving students the chance to tend to their personal lives during the week and still have time to work toward their career goals.

In addition to learning proper barbering skills and techniques, students are also taught the importance of treating their customers with kindness.

“The atmosphere is one of the main things we focus on,” said Torres. “We’re not trying to get our clients in and out, we want to treat people like people when they’re here. We slow things down and converse with people, like the old school barbershops before they were plagued with consumerism.”

Teaching each barber that the client is important is a mainstay in both Turlock and Atwater at Barber Club, said Hernandez.

“Every haircut is just another chance to get to know somebody, speak wisdom to them and maybe get some back,” said Hernandez.

Apprenticeship Academy student Jose Figueroa has learned a lot from the academy, he said.

“You learn more than just haircutting here,” he said. “I’ve learned how to stay motivated and keep a good mindset, and I’ve learned how to treat people and love our clients first. I’ve learned so much here that I didn’t learn in college.”