BY CRAIG COLEY
Jay Thompson, owner of Hoosier Barber Shop, had barbered in Indianapolis and Kokomo before moving to Bloomington in 2000. He says in those cities, customers were divided along racial lines. Thompson says that’s what he loves about Bloomington—the diversity of his customers.
“It doesn’t matter what race you are or where you’re from,” he says. “From day one, this has been a shop where everybody is welcome and everybody comes. I’m doing something here in Bloomington that I couldn’t do anywhere else in the state.”
Thompson, 47, who opened Hoosier Barber Shop in 2001, says he didn’t have a plan when he graduated from Concordia Lutheran High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana. “My mom said, ‘Why don’t you go to barber school until you find out what you want to do?’” Thompson found out quickly. He says barbers get to interact with people at significant points in their lives—job interviews, first dates, weddings, funerals. “To make people feel better—it’s an amazing feeling,” he says.
For its first 12 years, Hoosier Barber Shop was at 10th Street and the Ind. 45/46 Bypass. Now it’s on North Walnut near 12th Street. The address is 908 N. Walnut, but with the entrance around back, the location isn’t prominent. Thompson says he doesn’t mind. “We don’t need the visibility because we’re already established,” he said. The shop has four barbers and a stylist.
Thompson values tradition. “This is an old-fashioned barber shop,” he says. “These chairs are from the 50s. We do straight-razor shaves. We use a lot of hot towels and cold towels. The real deal.” A cut costs $15 and a straight-razor shave is $20.
Thompson’s wife, Kenndra, is associate director of admissions at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. He says he plans to stay in Bloomington and keep following his mother’s advice until he can’t hold clippers any more. “This is what I do,” he says. “I don’t want to do anything else.”
For more information, visit the shop on Facebook or call 812-332-0444.