Tiny Barber Relocates and Expands

A Chelsea business owner moves after a rent hike to avoid raising his prices

| 14 Dec 2022 | 12:19

Dreams do come true ... if you make them happen. This is exactly what happened for Avi Jacobov, who was first profiled in Chelsea News in 2016. He recently vacated that iconic tiny barber shop on West 22nd Street to realize those aforementioned dreams of a bigger space. Still in Chelsea, where he has solidified his roots, but now situated slightly south, right on Seventh Avenue.

The new space accommodates one more chair than before, and substantially more elbow room. Plus, the storefront on a much more trafficked thoroughfare should hopefully provide an increase in business from passersby, although mostly all of his clientele have followed him since the move.

And while a bigger space is what Jacobov had his mind set on all along, the move was instigated by yet another egregious rent hike, which the landlord, with whom he had always been on good terms, would not negotiate. For a small business such as this, there was no way to sustain such an increase without charging his customers drastically more, a practice he vehemently wanted to avoid. And so, he kept his eyes and ears out for vacancies in the neighborhood, his loyalty to his customers as strong as theirs is to him.

So when the 126 Seventh Avenue space caught his eye, he rode it out on 22nd Street to fulfill his lease and then relocated to the new digs. Not long after, as might have been obvious to even a casual bystander, the landlord realized his error, as finding a tenant like Jacobov is a bit of a needle in a haystack scenario.

And Jacobov was an exceptional needle: he was basically the perfect tenant, unfailingly paying his rent on time and in full, was clean and respectful, and that’s not even to mention the fundamental symbiosis of that minuscule storefront location with the nature of his business. What other entity could possibly house itself in such a diminutive space? The landlord has yet to answer that question.

“I Would Follow Him Anywhere”

But business at the new location is going strong, and like his client Greg W. said while he was in the chair, “I would follow him anywhere.” It feels old school, with a nostalgic barber’s pole spinning away out front, but that’s not to say that Avi can’t give you a modern crop, and you can now make appointments virtually using Squareup.com.

He has mastered styles from the simplest crew to undercuts and fades, all of which he has perfected over his twenty-five years in the business. That crewcut is just $25 by Avi, and if you request one of his associates, it’s even less.

He even printed up customized capes, with a patriotic American flag print emblazoned upon them, and big flatscreens to entertain customers as they are serviced, although Jacobov’s friendly banter would certainly be enough for most.

And as for the old space? It’s still vacant, and it seems the rent has been reduced back down to what Avi was paying before he was forced to move out. A lesson, perhaps, to landlords: sometimes it’s not all about the money. Like they say, you never know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.