- October 10, 2021
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Austin’s Barber Shop an old-fashioned community gathering place.
It draws men from all over the area: Billings, Shepherd, Huntley, Worden, partly for the haircut but maybe mostly for the barber.
It’s a one-of-a-kind, old-fashion business staying afloat amid a global pandemic.
“It’s a place that men can come and be men and talk like guys,” said Austin Schlosser, owner of Austin’s Barber Shop in Billings Heights. “There’s something special about that I think where a guy can go and get away and get some problems out sometimes. I really enjoy it.”
Schlosser has built trust and rapport with his customers and hears the buzz about almost everything you can imagine from grandkids to agriculture to football, along with other stories in the community.
“And, like I say, some of them are true,” Mark Johnson, one of Austin’s customers, said. “You get all the gossip. Yea, you heard we’re talking about high school football and local school board stuff and it’s a good way to catch up on things.”
“Sometimes it’s almost like a bartender,” said Don Gonzales, another of Austin’s customers. “You’re going to say things you probably wouldn’t anywhere else.”
Gonzales talked about something more personal during his time in the chair, his recovery from COVID.
“I’m like, Okay, you have to make a decision right now, are you gonna fight this or what because this is it,” Gonzales said. “Very grateful. I had the best care I’ve ever had (at) any hospital. I got sick about five weeks ago so that was probably the last time I got a haircut so I feel pretty clean right now.”
And Austin’s barber shop was closed for a month and a half because of COVID but managed to stay in business.
“After six weeks, there was a lot of shaggy haircuts and a lot of homemade haircuts I had to fix,” Schlosser said.
Schlosser has been a barber for 14 years, including 13 at this shop he bought from his friend and mentor.
“Jim Teter was the owner of the barber shop,” Schlosser said. “About a year I worked with him full time and then I bought the shop.”
Austin has been involved with the Optimists, the Jaycees and the balloon fest.
That connection to the community is evident both outside and inside his barber shop.
“When my father-in-law was alive, he was pretty immobile,” Johnson said. “And Austin is very patient helping the older guys and getting them in and out of the chair safely.”
“Your customers aren’t customers,” Schlosser said. “They’re your friends.”
“There’s not many old-school barber shops that I found,” Johnson said. “This suits my needs perfectly.”
“There’s always going to be a traditional barber shop in Billings because I’m not going anywhere,” Schlosser said.
Austin’s Barber Shop is located at 2225 Main St.