- August 29, 2021
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August 28, 2021
By Bob Labbe
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Published 10:50 am Saturday, August 7, 2021
MADISON- What’s more fun than attending a Rocket City Trash Pandas baseball game and having a hotdog, popcorn, your favorite beverage and a haircut. What…a haircut?
What is thought to be the first of its kind in Minor League Baseball, a full-fledged, fully-stocked barber shop is located beyond the centerfield wall at Toyota Field on the open area walk-around concourse. Opened to the public by appointments or walk-ins, the GBF Shops-Big 75 barber shop is open for business at each Trash Pandas’ home game.
The idea to have a barber’s chair and the necessary equipment to provide haircuts and shaves came in a co-idea by Kevin Thomas, 37, and Vince Biffle, 53, two longtime local barbers who also love baseball. When customers sit down for a quick, but expert trim and/or shave each has the best seat in the house.
“The outfield location is perfect as we had to show the Trash Pandas this was good for the park and they love it,” said Thomas. “Under our tent when it rains, people stop here and check us out as the beer station is right in front of our location. It’s the experience, that’s what the people want to see what’s different at the ballpark.”
Moving to Huntsville from Birmingham to attend Alabama A&M, Thomas began cutting hair within the campus dorms even without any type of formal training. He said it was just something in his “artsy mind” that worked into something good and he just kept at perfecting his craft. His experience at being a barber now stands at 13 years with the last eight in Madison with his own barber shop, Marvelous Cuts, located on Wall Triana.
Ironically, his first barber job came when he visited Biffle’s Better Days Barbershop in Huntsville and asked for a job. Biffle remembered the day Thomas arrived, as he said, “He came in as a young guy and we had space available right beside me. When he came up with the idea of setting up a chair with the Trash Pandas I figured you just have to go for your dream. He wanted to be right along with all the hype of the Trash Pandas.”
Thomas attended the groundbreaking of Toyota Field and asked about the possibility of having a barber’s location as it was his dream. He handed off a proposal to one of the City Council members who took the information to the Trash Pandas. Current general Manager Garrett Fahrmann contacted Thomas and actually visited Thomas’ home. Thomas added, “He saw the equipment I had in my garage and said, wow, you guys really do have it together. Let’s make it happen.”
“We strive to give our fans unique topics of conversation, whether it’s an on the field promotion or the barber shop,” said Fahrmann.
Fans can setup an appointment on line or call either Thomas or Biffle. Those can purchase a ticket for the game and arrive for their haircut or shave or can just come for the barber’s cut and leave the stadium.
Daniel Worsley is one of those regular customers who sits in the outfield barber chair. “I like it as I haven’t seen anything like it,” said Worsley, 32, who works at Mazda Toyota.
Thomas and Biffle stand in unison on the endeavor and utilize a couple additional barbers when needed. Thomas is CEO of GBF and Big 75 and is looking at possibly expanding to have a similar location next season at the Birmingham Barons. He’s also looking at adding a location at Parkway Place. He’s indicated he’s looking at applying for a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records as a first in baseball.
“We service our clients, watch the game and take a picture of those who get a haircut and post on our website,” added Thomas.
“This idea was something that made me want to get up and come out here,” added Biffle. “When you love what you’re doin’, it’s fun.”
The clientele range in all ages with the youngest so far to sit in the chair was two years of age. Women have also dropped by to see what the banter is all about in centerfield.
“I cut a woman’s eyebrows one time,” said Biffle. Thomas added, “I cut a woman’s hair who was visiting from Florida.”
Thomas and Biffle are business partners at Toyota Field and are best friends as well. The idea of setting up a barber shop with the Trash Pandas came in a dream and now reality, but the idea would have never happened if it wasn’t for a common love of cutting hair.
“I appreciate Vince giving me the opportunity of being the greatest barber I could be,” said Thomas.
To get the best seat in the house, appointments can be made at gbfshops.setmore.com or by calling 256-581-5900.