Photos and Story by Michael Catarineau
Haircuts have never been a social gathering, or an event to look forward to, for men. Some ladies plan weeks ahead for “A Day with the Girls,” including a mani-pedi, gossip, giggles, and a new hairdo — maybe even shopping. For men, getting a haircut is just another chore to run on Saturday morning: grab some groceries, stop by the bank, handle the hair.
Tune Up, “The Manly Salon,” is looking to change that. Their fourth salon opened at 404 Jane St. in College Station, next to Mad Taco, in January. At Tune Up, guys can walk in, watch the game, and enjoy a free draught beer or cocktail while they wait for a haircut or beard trim.
The Magnolia-bred salon started a year and a half ago to give men the same coddled experience salons have offered women for years. Lara Cox, a bartender at the College Station location says customer service is the driving force behind Tune Up.
“We have better overall service and atmosphere,” Cox says. “And you can’t beat the free alcohol.”
Randi Alexander, the manager, says she has seen some of the same faces many times despite how new the salon is.
“We have everything those places, including Sports Clips, don’t,” Alexander says.
Justin Walker, a graduate student at Texas A&M University, has lived in College Station for six years and has only been to two barber shops.
“I have been going to Sports Clips for the past four years,” Walker says. Before that, he drove home to visit his childhood stylist.
Walker saw a post on Facebook about Tune Up and decided to give them a shot.
“From the moment I walked in, to the moment I met with my stylist. It was all about me and my hair,” Walker says.
Walker first noticed the music when he walked into Tune Up — a ’90s hit from his childhood. The laid-back, rugged atmosphere welcomed him and he registered quickly with a bartender, then chose his drink. A stylist called for Walker before he could finish his drink.
“My stylist stood back and really examined my hair,” Walker says. “She even paused every now and then to ask if I wanted a sip of my beer.”
After his haircut, Walker sat and enjoyed a game on television as he sipped the remainder of his beer. Walker’s visit lasted a little more than an hour.
“This type of experience makes the haircut a social activity,” Walker says. “It’s something I’d want to do with friends.”
Walker admired the detail and passion his stylist exhibited during his visit, and said he definitely plans on visiting again with friends.
Tune Up offers straight-razor shaves, haircuts, beard trims, shoulder massages, manicures, and pedicures for men. They also offer a VIP program that starts at $99. The program allows the member to skip the line for unlimited haircuts, beard trims and massages, and a monthly pedicure and manicure. The member also gets a personal bottle of liquor with his name on it.