New place gives Clippers cutting edge

Clippers Barber Shop is still “fading out the competition” at its new College Square Plaza location, said the owners, staff and customers. Additions at the new location include a large mural featuring services available at the shop, a signature “C” engraved in the shop’s floor, lavender walls and track lighting. The shop has also added a stereo system and three televisions.

FAMU student Ali “A.J.” Jullot was among the chuckling clients watching “Harlem Nights” on a mounted television while waiting for his haircut. A business student from Miami, Jullot said he is pleased with the new location’s decor.

“This is my first time since they changed it, and I like this location,” Jullot said.

He also said he likes the funny barbers and that it’s the only place where he can get a good cut.

To inform the public about the new location, Clippers uses a marketing strategy that includes radio commercials with hip-hop music and glossy flyers with a style similar to some local nightclubs.

The owner and manager, Robert Gayle, 22, a student at TCC, is from Miami where his family owns a barber shop, also named Clippers. The young entrepreneur said Tallahassee was ripe for his type of business.

“I chose Tallahassee for the young environment,” Gayle said.

“There is a high demand for looks here, because people are so young. I saw that there wasn’t a hip barber shop in town.”

He is also hoping the new location will be more conducive to his already thriving business.

The shop was previously located across the street in the Varsity Shopping Center complex with the FSU School of Anthropology.

However, the owner found some of his neighbors to be hostile.

“We’re a young, African-American business,” Gayle said. “We have a lot of traffic going in and out, and most of that traffic is African American and male.”

“Some of our neighbors assumed that we must be dealing drugs, which is absolutely crazy,” Gayle said.

Despite the former lack of support, the business is a success.

Gayle credits this to his student-friendly atmosphere and management style.

“I would describe my approach as organized confusion. It all comes through in the end. I am a student myself and I have to be understanding.”

Joe Wesley, 21, a FSU student from Miami, has been a Clippers employee since January 2001. Wesley said he likes the flexibility and management.

“The management is young, just like us,” he said. “I like the new location. It is definitely a better work environment.”

Gayle said he hopes to have other developments for his customers and staff. He said he will be opening a Caribbean restaurant, Jamaican Way, in less than two months. He also said he has plans for a women’s hair salon.

The new Clippers location is still being remodeled, but is open to the public. Gayle said he trusts continued quality will help the shop make a smooth transition.

“We offer the best barbers and we do things that no one else is doing,” he said.

“There are a lot of improvements I would like to make. We are just going to keep getting better.”

Tara Lake can be reached at