Article & Photo by Christopher Selmek of Urbana Daily Citizen
Urbana native Matt Ropp has come home again and just opened a barber shop on Tuesday, North Locust Barber Shop, at 109 N. Locust St. According to some on his social media feed, people have been getting their hair cut at that location for at least 50 years, although it had been closed almost two years before Ropp set about restoring the property.
“I’m from here, and I got my first haircut in this shop,” he said. “It was available for rent and I guess I just always had an interest in cutting hair in my hometown. I had a successful shop in Troy and I just handed it over to a guy I worked with and moved home.”
Graduating from Urbana High School in 2008, Ropp joined the Army and was a human intelligence analyst until 2014. His service includes four years at Fort Lewis, Washington, and one year in Afghanistan, then following his discharge from the Army he went to college for several years at Boise State University in Idaho.
Ropp said many of his international business credits wouldn’t transfer when he moved back to Ohio, so instead of retaking many of the same courses he decided to attend the Ron West Barber College in Dayton and open his own place in Troy.
“I was in the shop in Troy for a year-and-a-half by myself and I was slammed, and I thought getting a second guy in there would help because some of my customers would start going to him, and that’s not how it happened,” he said. “Everyone wanted to stick with me, so it turned into trying to get him his own customers, because he was sitting there doing nothing. Now that I’m gone they don’t have a choice but to go to him, so he’s slammed already.”
Ropp said he was inspired to become a barber because his brother, 10 years older, is a barber in Urbana and he was always around it. While in the Army, Ropp judged the buzz cuts of his fellow soldiers and one of his friends commented that he should consider becoming a barber.
“It kind of just came naturally,” he said. “It wasn’t too difficult, because I’ve always been artistic and a creative person. I think it’s a form of art … Older guys get just the basic trim haircuts, but then there’s the young kids who get it really short at the bottom to really long on top with a line in it, or certain designs in it, and beards are back in style so we do a lot of beard trims and straight razor work and stuff like that.”
Ropp expressed gratitude to his father, Kenny Ropp, for being there to help paint, watch his daughter, or assist in any way while he was preparing the shop.
Ropp said he has been moving chairs and equipment while continuing to work at the Troy shop, which he handed over to its new owner Saturday, Oct. 12.
North Locust Barber Shop will provide men’s haircuts and shaves. Business hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. The store is closed Sunday and Monday.
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