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As trendy barbershops and men’s salons have cropped up in New York City in the past several years, one firm, called Reamir & Co., has quietly built an infrastructure of numerous unassuming barbershops that mix old world style and modern motifs.
This story first appeared in the January 8, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Reamir, which was founded by Uzbekistan native Arthur Rubinoff, 34, with the opening of a barbershop on Columbus Avenue on the Upper West Side in 1999, has seven locations in the city, including two in Queens, and plans to open two more in Manhattan by spring.
The first new shop, a five-chair location, is to open in a month on 53rd Street between Second and Third Avenues and target male clientele in a neighborhood dense with office buildings. The second, a four-chair space, will be located at 293 Mercer Street, heavy with the foot traffic of New York University students.
The two new locations could each pull in sales of between $250,000 and $300,000 in their first year — in line with his existing locations, according to estimates by industry sources.
Rubinoff, who said in an interview Wednesday that 99 percent of his clientele is made up of guys, added he envisions eventually opening 18 barbershops in the city, with the next possible spaces popping up near Columbia University, Harlem and SoHo.
He’s also going overseas this year, with the opening of Reamir locations in Israel and Moscow. Rubinoff’s strategy calls for all locations to be less than 500 square feet, with three to five chairs and one shampoo station.
“We try to limit the size of the stores to manage expenses — especially in this economy,” he remarked.
The firm’s two key existing locations are at 251 East 57th Street and at 141A East 44th Street, near Grand Central Terminal, where Franco Frustaci, a master barber for 33 years, is partner. The 44th Street space features Belmont barber chairs from the Twenties, a bright interior and a Swarovski crystal chandelier.
Haircuts at Reamir start at $16 and a wash, cut and dry goes for $22 and up. There’s also a signature barber shave that ranges from $20 to $35.
On top of the steady growth strategy, next week Rubinoff is poised to sign Japanese actor Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (“Memoirs of a Geisha,” “Mortal Kombat”) to be the face of the brand. He’s also putting together a product launch party for March 31 that is to feature a performance by Michael Imperioli’s rock band, La Dolce Vita.
In addition to the barbershops, Reamir also markets an eight-item, essential oil-based product line that includes a shampoo, conditioner, two gels, a pre-shave oil, shaving cream, aftershave balm and a witch hazel toner. And, Rubinoff is going green this year by converting the packaging of the Reamir bottles and bags into corn-based plastic materials that make the packaging biodegradable. He’s also working on two new hair care items, one of which will be a beeswax-based product.
Rubinoff, a third-generation barber, grew up in a barbershop from the age of three, after his father opened a barbershop in Uzbekistan in 1975.
“This is my [calling],” he said. “This is what I love to do.”