'THE RIGHT TIME': Barber rehabs space in downtown Monroe – Monroe Evening News

Three years ago, John “JB” Burden was traveling through downtown Monroe when he came across the small space at 123 S. Monroe St. 
He had recently moved to the area after marrying his wife, Brooke. They both are stylists, sharing a passion for cutting hair. 
Intrigued by the then-empty space, Burden approached the storefront’s window and peered inside, noting the emptiness of its interior. 
“When I looked at it — it screamed barbershop to me,” Burden, a 41-year-old Monroe resident, said. “It had an old-school feel to it — I was just drawn to it.”
Owning and operating a shop had long been a dream of Burden, who began cutting hair when he was just nine. 
When he reached out to the space’s owner, he learned it had just been rented out. 
Reigning in his disappointment, Burden went about life, building his client base as he worked as a barber in Monroe at other shops. But he still thought about the small storefront, and retained his desire to open his own barbershop. 
So when a friend mentioned a possible space that had opened up downtown, he expressed his interest in learning more. When he realized that it was the same space he had previously missed out on, and learned that the shop was now available and ready for a tenant, he jumped at the opportunity.
JB’s Barbershop has been open for about a month.
“It was the right time,” Burden said. “I had to do it. … I wanted to step up to the plate and bring something new to Monroe.”
Burden spent seven months working on the building, and with state and city officials, to achieve the shop of his dreams.
The barbershop features a combination of modern conveniences and a vintage look, with gleaming checkered floors and state-of-the-art styling equipment. 
“I wanted to bring something new, but familiar, to Monroe,” Burden said. 
He said opening the shop is a leap of faith, but it’s a risk he’s eager to take
“I’m confident in my craft and I have a dedicated, loyal clientele base,” he added. 
Burden said the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted how his clients appreciated the work of stylists. He followed all safety guidelines, but noted how some were apprehensive during the early days of the health crisis.
“There were many of my clients who were afraid,” he said. “But people fell into a groove and returned (to stylists) and things have been pretty normal since.”
In addition to cutting hair, Burden also has a passion for the entertainment industry. He is an actor, singer, dancer and a percussionist drummer. After serving in the Air Force, he attended barber school in Toledo and has been working as a barber since completing his training. 
He most enjoys helping people feel good about themselves, with the goal of putting a smile on every face. He asks as many questions as possible as he contemplates how to best style a client’s hair, striving to deliver an exemplary job. 
“My saying is, ‘You can’t leave my chair until it’s crispy,’” Burden said. “Like crispy smooth — just nice lines and layers.” 
Burden worked to rehab the interior of the space, tearing down fixtures from previous businesses while also preserving the charm of what first drew him to the shop. He painted, polished the floors and installed new lighting throughout the building. 
“I wanted to keep its originality, but add a new twist,” he said. 
Being a barber is rewarding, Burden said, adding that it gives him an opportunity to learn about people.
“You get to listen to people and you never know what they’re going to say,” Burden said. “You never know what somebody is going through. … It’s a blessing to be able to show them that someone is there and cares.”
He also appreciates being part of downtown Monroe. He said he is thankful to be part of a group of business owners trying to revitalize the district.
“It’s great to be around so much history and to help draw people downtown — I want to help other shops (in the area) grow; it’s all about local,” Burden said. “I will do my absolute best to be the best barber I can be. I want to provide great service to the community.”
The shop is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays; and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. 


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