Sylvia Grachen Tells Her Story on The Hinsdale Local Podcast
Recently, the owner of Hinsdale Barber Shop appeared as a guest on The Hinsdale Local Podcast. Hosted by Brent Stutzman, the podcast features prominent business owners in the town of Hinsdale, Illinois and discusses their journey as entrepreneurs. Sylvia had a blast talking with Brent about the barber shop and retelling the story of how her family grew the business from a 3-chair shop to a 7-chair shop.
In the podcast, Sylvia and Brent discussed how unique old school barber shops are in that you see senior citizens, young adults, and kids all in one place. Oftentimes, it is generational where you have three generations of family members as clients. This isn’t surprising because Hinsdale Barber Shop opened its doors way back in 1972 when Hinsdale was still filled with mom-and-pop shops.
Sylvia’s dad, Rene, opened the shop at a time when he knew nothing about Hinsdale. Sylvia and her family grew up in Bolingbrook and her mom had a beauty shop in Romeoville, so cutting hair runs in the family. When Rene started his business, he immediately fell in love with the town of Hinsdale and the community of people who live there. Sylvia inherited the love for the people of Hinsdale. Sylvia started helping out at her father’s shop in her early teens. She’s now been there for more than 30 years.
Brent and Sylvia also discussed the growth of Hinsdale Barber Shop. For most of the shop’s history, Rene ran the shop in a small storefront he rented outlasting multiple landlords. About five years ago, the family purchased a bigger space. They transformed a former pet grooming store into the new Hinsdale Barber shop, gutting the building while maintaining the historic building’s character. They also discussed the effort it has taken to modernize the shop. Sylvia took over as the store’s owner about five years ago. Back in the day the store advertised by word of mouth, reservations were made by payphone, and customers paid with cash. Recently, Sylvia has incorporated online scheduling, created a website for the business, launched a social media campaign for the first time, and begun to accommodate credit card payments.
One reason Sylvia loves cutting hair is because of the clients. As a barber, you have intimate conversations with clients, and you really get to know them and their families. You learn their story and start to care for them. So, it was hard when COVID hit, and the shop had to close for 2.5 months. Through prayer, the business made it through this difficult time, but it was hard not seeing people. At the same time, the customers of the shop were so sweet during this time and showed true generosity. Some even left money under our door to pay for the haircuts they would have bought if the store were open. Reopening was a challenge. The team had to adjust to new rules and learn how to cut hair with a mask on. Yet, Sylvia and her team were grateful to be back and in good health. You can hear more about Sylvia’s story by listening to the podcast episode, which can be found here. We want to thank Brent for featuring us on his podcast. It is an honor to connect with others who love and support the Hinsdale community.
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