New barbers settle in
It’s not all about the fluff at Plaza

By AMANDA VOSS - Daily News

August 27, 2014

 New decor on display at the Plaza Barber Shop on Tuesday afternoon in West Bend. 
Photo by John Ehlke

WEST BEND - The new owners of Plaza Barber Shop, Valerie Vorpahl and Brittany Luther, admit they are going against the grain by owning a barbershop, but they are bringing old-fashioned service and barbering techniques to West Bend.

Plaza Barber Shop, 836 S. Main St., has been in West Bend for more than 40 years, but co-owners Vorpahl and her daughter-in-law, Luther, bought the business June 1.

Vorpahl, who has been cutting hair for 30 years, said she owned a barbershop in Brownsville and has been a manager in the area for several years. She trained Luther, who has five years of experience. They wanted to work together.

While looking in the paper for condos, Vorpahl stumbled across an advertisement for the business.

Vorpahl and Luther said there aren’t many barbershops anymore because the cosmetology and barber licenses were merged, but recently the licenses were split.

 Plaza Barber Shop staff members Brittany Luther, Steve Neuber and Valerie Vorpahl at the newly renovated area of the Plaza Barber Shop on Tuesday afternoon in West Bend.
Photo by John Ehlke

“There’s probably more employable barbers out of barbering school,” Luther said. “Last year they came up with a barber school and it hasn’t been like that since the ’70s, at least in Wisconsin.”

That’s why there are not many barbershops, Vorpahl said. “All of the barbers are getting older. We wanted to keep the old style, old family barbershop alive,” she said.

Vorpahl said Plaza Barber Shop is a little different than most, because Vorpahl uses barbering techniques that aren’t taught in cosmetology school and she passed those techniques to Luther. Some of those techniques include more clipper cutting, more freehand work and straight razor shaving.

Vorpahl said Plaza Barber Shop offers haircuts, kids cuts, shampoos, ear trims, face shaves and a neck shave is always included.

 Steve Neuber works on trimming up the hair for a customer at the Plaza Barber Shop
on Tuesday afternoon in West Bend.  

Photo by John Ehlke

“We take our time and it isn’t about the fluff,” Vorpahl said. “It’s about the good haircut in a relaxing comfortable atmosphere. We kind of have a slogan. It’s: Plaza Barber Shop, where your hair is our business.”

Vorpahl said they don’t advertise to draw women, but they don’t turn women away either. Vorpahl and Luther are trained and experienced in cutting women’s hair.

Joining Vorpahl and Luther at Plaza Barber Shop is Stephan Neuber, who has been a barber at Plaza Barber Shop for more than 20 years, but has been a barber for about 40 years.

“He’s like the woodwork on the wall,” Vorpahl said.

Neuber said he’s glad Vorpahl and Luther are there so the shop can keep going and he hopes the new owners will bring in a lot of young people.

“I’ve been here 23 years so they’re kind of used to me, I guess,” Neuber said.

The work stations at the Plaza Barber Shop on Tuesday afternoon in West Bend. Renovations were made earlier in the year to remove a separation between two of the chairs.  
Photo by John Ehlke

Vorpahl said they knew they were going against the grain by owning a barbershop and there was a lot of hesitation from regular customers.

“Because if you can give them a good hair cut, they’re happy,” Luther said.

Since Vorpahl and Luther took over the business, Vorpahl said they are getting busier. She said customers are less shocked and more welcoming.

Vorpahl said walking into Plaza Barber Shop was like walking into the ’70s before they bought it and Vorpahl and Luther had two days to renovate the business.

Some of the renovations included covering the wood paneling with paint, adding new barber and reception chairs, new mirrors, and shelves. She said a customer made their front desk.

“So, the two days we’re not open that’s when we did all this so we wouldn’t miss a beat,” Luther said.

A lot of changes were made to the business and Vorpahl said a coffee maker, a television and Internet service were added. Customers can pay with a credit or debit card, which they couldn’t do before.

 The Plaza Barber Shop on Tuesday afternoon in West Bend.  
Photo by John Ehlke

She encourages people to come to Plaza Barber Shop to experience the old-fashioned service, techniques and haircuts.

“We want it to be an environment where guys will sit down and read the paper and have a cup of coffee,” Vorpahl said.

Plaza Barber Shop is open 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. The phone number is 334-9222.