By Diana Colson
The South Gate Barber Shop has been in existence for over fifty years. It was fading into obscurity when taken over by TJ Vincent in 2014, who came in, redid the shop, and kept it all going.
TJ Vincent is a lady barber in a field usually dominated by men. At the time she got her first license, she was the first female in Florida to be tested for barbering. TJ—also known as Teresa—first graduated from Beauty School before deciding that becoming a barber would be even more appealing. She attended Barber College in Ft. Lauderdale, passed stringent state tests with flying colors, and—before long—was a full-fledged barber with three shops in Orlando and one in Old Englewood Village. She had but one goal: to provide first-class barber services.
TJ soon went back for additional studies. “I wanted to know it all and become well-rounded,” says this entrepreneurial woman. She took a course in the Roffler method of hair design. The program was designed by Edmond “Pop” Roffler in 1958. It brought advanced European hair cutting methods to America, translating those methods to fit American taste and style. Entirely new and different, Roffler used the straight razor to cut and blend the lengths of hair. His system caught on quickly and he began to teach courses in his advanced technique. TJ signed up for one, and soon was completely enthralled!
When the South Gate Barber Shop became available in 2014, TJ jumped at the chance to take it over. Her goal was to run a real “Olde Fashion” Barber Shop with a candy stripe barber pole out front. She came in and redid everything. She brought Old Tampa Theater seats to use as her waiting chairs. She filled the place with Burma Shave pictures, hung lures from a fishing pole, and stocked the room with a lot of antiques. TJ put in five stations for haircuts, bought red and white striped capes, and found four other lady barbers to help—as well as a gentleman barber who fills in when snowbirds arrived.
Before long, customers came streaming in, for the services were truly professional. South Gate Barber Shop offers a variety of haircuts: Tapers, Flattops, Fades, and Razor Cuts. They also offer beard trimming, full face shaves, men’s hair color, and shampoos on request. Attention is paid to various grooming needs, including ears, nose, eyebrows, and mustache. The shop is “real picky” about sanitation, and all haircuts are finished with a hot lather neck shave.
“We don’t cook breakfast, but we do serve coffee,” says TJ, and two large screen television sets are housed at either end of the shop to keep adults entertained. The shop also specializes in serving children, for TJ feels that “Kids are our future!” She keeps a few toys on hand to amuse kids as they wait, and every boy’s haircut ends with the presentation of a Tootsie Roll.
The aim of the shop is to be homey and comfortable. As TJ puts it, “A lot of old-fashioned barbershops have faded away, but we are here to stay! No appointments are necessary. A guy can come in, relax, and have a good time.”
Don’t let the down-home approach fool you. The haircuts being offered at South Gate are both skilled and sophisticated, for the Roffler technique is one in which TJ is utterly proficient. This method is an approach that focuses on understanding and mastering the hair design process. It uses classic principles of art and beauty, as well as proven cutting techniques. The use of quality products completes the Roffler look.
Gentlemen—you are going to emerge from this barbershop looking GREAT!
Famed for its fair prices and friendly atmosphere, South Gate Barber Shop is located at 2081 Siesta Drive in Sarasota, opposite LUCKY’S in the same strip mall as the Siesta Drive Post Office. It is open Monday through Friday from 9 to 6, Saturday from 9 to 4, and is closed on Sunday. Call 941-312-6001 or simply walk in.