The Hair Force, located at 4415 N Sheridan Road in Uptown, is a bustling barber shop that continues the legacy of the current owner’s uncle, a Chicago barber who began his career in 1948. The storefront beckons with cheerful hand-painted signage. The atmosphere inside is evocative of the great tradition of urban barber shops as anchors of community, and places where one’s personal barber can be trusted with any honest opinion or secret.
Shop owner Brandon Turner has been a barber since 1989. His uncle, the man who inspired him to go into the business, opened The Hair Force at its current location in 1996 after two decades of working out of a storefront in East Lakeview. Brandon took over management of the shop 2004, and when asked what values have been passed down as keys to success in the business he says:
Treat everyone with respect, the same respect no matter who the customer might be in life. A pastor, a deacon, a cop, or a homeless man…all deserve to be treated with the same level of respect when they sit down in your chair.
On the walls of the shop, framed photos pay tribute to a proud African American history. As I look at them, I think of Brandon’s uncle and the changing world he surely saw over many decades of work as a Chicago barber. In recent years, scholars of Black history have written on the critical role of barber shops to the evolution of African American culture and the civil rights movement; most notably, Vassar history professor Quincy Mills authored a fascinating book entitled “Cutting Along the Color Line: Black Barbers and Barber Shops in America.”
One of the newer members of the Hair Force barber team is Erica. When I visited the shop, she was working with a very cheerful customer who had obviously come to hold her stylist in high regard. When asked why she liked to have Erica do her hair, the customer praised her for the fact that she was working her way through college, and added:
Erica has a big heart. She’s sincere, she takes her time with you and always gives you 100%.
Whereas barber shops are primarily thought of as masculine establishments, the Hair Force also welcomes female customers and is very family friendly. On any given day, it’s not uncommon to see a few small children fidgeting under the watchful eyes of a parent as they wait for a turn in the chair.
Hair Force is open 7:00am to 6:30pm. Full barber services include hot lather razor shaves. For more info, you can call the shop at (773) 271-7833.