West Village Barber David Hardin Jr. Is a Bridge Between Old Detroit and New Detroit –  Deadline Detroit

The founder and operator of Heavy Weight Cuts, a throwback barber shop in Detroit’s West Village, is back in the news — and the angle echoes coverage last year.

David Hardin Jr.: “This is a viable business that really is valued.” (Detroit Future City photo)

“It’s a good story,” MJ Galbraith writes at the start of a Model D profile of David Hardin Jr., “a self-made man [who] taught himself how to cut hair and run a business.”

But it’s also [a story], like that of many long-time Detroit establishments, overlooked in favor of the new, flashy business, of which there have been many these past several years. . . .

How does an old school neighborhood barbershop fit into a changing West Village?

Hardin Jr., for one, doesn’t seem that worried. More people means more traffic and attention for the neighborhood. People were moving out, but now they’re moving in. . . .

“This area is full of customers,” Hardin Jr. says. “This is a viable business that really is valued in the community.”

Here’s more of what the 44-year-old Finney High graduate tells Galbraith, a reprise of what Crain’s Detroit Business heard in March 2017:

[Newcomers are] gonna bring more business to the area, as well as to me. I’ll also have other people I can talk to and bounce ideas off of, because for so long I was here by myself.

“It kinda felt like it [the neighborhood] wasn’t going anywhere. I was still getting business, but it just seemed like the area was going down, there wasn’t anything going on around here. Having different businesses come back to the area, it was a welcome reprieve because that meant there’s a focus on the area and it’s gonna flourish again. . . .

“The more people there are, the more people I have to listen to me.” 

The east-side shop. (Google Street View)

Early last year, when he was editor and publisher at Crain’s, nationally known journalist Ron Fournier stopped into Heavy Weight Cuts at 8008 Kercheval Ave. after a young white entrepreneur nearby delivered a stark reality check: “I can’t think of one article that ever discussed the West Village or Parker Street that mentioned Dave’s business.”

Fournier felt chastened and awakened:

I was so focused on the new people in town — and the comeback narrative that they represented — that I ignored those who grew up in Detroit and never left. People like Hardin, 43, who began working at Heavy Weight Cuts in 2001, and who bought the business and its two-story brick storefront in 2008. . . .

Hardin greeted me with a hello and a handshake. “Glad to finally have you here,” he chuckled.

Hardin said journalists tend to overlook African-American businessmen like him — especially those who were making a buck during Detroit’s bleakest years.

“Businesses like mine have been taken for granted. We live in the shadows,” he said. “When somebody comes in and is flashy and new, they get all the attention.”

Four month’s after Fournier’s column, Hardin was the focus of this one-minute Shinola video below, part of a “Working Together | Roll Up Our Sleeves” series about small businesses and others enriching Detroit. It describes Heavy Weihght Cuts as “a hub of ideas, creativity and community.”

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