Who Wants a Haircut for $9.99?

The other day I was walking past this barber shop on Broadway in the upper 90’s:

barber wide shot

This sign caught my eye:

apprentice price

It made me wonder what kind of customer is willing to get a crewcut by an “apprentice barber.” Would you? Also, was there really an “apprentice barber” on standby only to handle the $9.99 cuts? Not likely. It did make me think back to when I was in grad school and needed a root canal, and took advantage of the cut-rate dentistry available at my school’s College of Dental Medicine. The root canal was performed by a student — it took many visits, was unbelievably painful, and kept me from returning to any dentist for several years.

In this case, I wonder if the $9.99 haircut price works as a pure attention-getter, and makes a potential customer think that the regular prices (listed below) are, relative to the indignity of an “apprentice” haircut, still pretty cheap.

full price

Clint Williams

I've been going to Great Clips for over 15 years often using a $8.99 coupon for a haircut. I rarely have the same stylist as Great Clips is a springboard for stylists right out of training before they can afford their own booth rental somewhere else.

In 15 years and three different cities/Great Clips I can only think of 3 times I was unhappy with a cut. So the bargain for me ... has been a benefit.


I think so. I've done this many times; in fact, I used students exclusively for my haircuts and colors for 10 years. I am a young professional, female, and particular about my hair... but I am also cost conscious. For the most part, it was worth it to me. Students (and apprentices moreso, who are often recent graduates) are supervised every step of the way. There is a licensed, experienced professional watching every step. With hair, there isn't much they can mess up that can't be fixed. I also liked that students are often on the cutting edge of trends. They're getting training on all of the latest techniques and "in the know" on what is popular (whereas more experienced stylists may not be).

Perhaps for men it's a different story, as the price difference between the student/apprentice vs the professional is less (so perhaps they're less willing to risk it), but for me, the risk was well worth the $150+ saved (especially when I had to go every 4-6 weeks!)



Wait, is that a typo? $150 saved every month or so? So you would be paying over $200, maybe $300?

Please tell me what they could possibly do to your hair for that price? Or is this just LA/NY pricing that doesn't affect me?

Also, I imagine you as absurdly beautiful now, to the point where it's difficult to look at you, like the sun. That's solely based on the amount you pay for spectacular hair.

Dirk T

Never have had a really bad haircut but I have had some that weren't exactly top notch. When you wear something every day of the year why would you want to skimp?


I've been in the Army for 5 years, keeping withing regulation requires a new haircut about every 10 days or so, I'm quite happy for sub-$10 service, because It grows out in less than 2 weeks anyways.


IF - and it's a real big if - I were willing to get a crew cut at all, I would have no problem with getting one from an apprentice barber. Heck, I might even do it myself.

Jon Armstrong

Working in the services industry (mobile app design) I often get clients who are unhappy about who they worked with before at a cut rate. They expect me to lower my prices as a result. Not happening.


In a barber shop you are probably right, but I've never seen a barber shop apprentice/trainee (training seems to be short and not done at a lot of barbers themselves).

However ful hair dressers for women it probably is right. They are often quite big and do have trainees in there (altohugh often only certain days/times and by appointment).

A friend of mine got a free haircut last week worth well over £100 (if done by a standard hairdresser in the same salon) because when she was walking around the Bullring one of the salons there had trainee practical exams that day and didn't have enough clients so went out into the mall looking for suitable volunteers and offered them free cuts. I didn't think that sort of thing actually happened.


This is overpriced. You can get a $7 haircut (not just a buzz cut) at the barber school on W. 29th Street, just east of 8th Avenue. I'm sure those are "apprentice barbers", given that it's barber school.

Alternatively, you can go down to Chinatown, on Pell near Doyers, and get a $8 haircut from a non-apprentice barber. Yes, there might be a bit of a language barrier, but if you're just looking for essentially a buzz cut, it's perfectly fine. If you want something else, you can perhaps bring a picture if you can't hack the Chinese instructions. And, for $2 more, you can get a shampoo.

Dr John Q

I was a recent graduate of a Dental School. Fees may be slightly discounted, but alot of times the quality of the work in the school would be better then what you'd get in a private practice. Each step is meticulous and done within the optimal standard of care. In private practices often treatment is motivated by profit, and steps may be compromised to get the patient out of the chair so the next one could be seated.

I don't know if other discount services operate within the same framework, but for those who needed would not discourage the educational setting for dentistry

Steve Cebalt

I shave my head for free, but for years I went in weekly and paid Cindy the stylist $5 to do it. I said to my then-wife, "I am 45 years old, I deserve better than a $5 haircut."

Said my wife: "You're right. Give her $6.


I am reminded of a story about price as it affects the perception of quality. A new stylist opened a shop across from a town's longtime barber, who advertised haircuts for $13. The new stylist advertised her price: $6.

So the original barber changed his price and his positioning accordingly: "We fix $6 haircuts: $15."


In my neck of the woods, there are many places that advertise a $5 haircut for men and boys, $10 for girls while women are charged non-discount prices. (I'd say a typical price for a men's haircut here is $12 or $13.) The stylists who do the cut-rate cuts are the same who do the full-price women's cuts. I ended up trying one of these places in a pinch one time and there wasn't a discernible difference for me, but then again, I'm not the type that really cares about his hair.

Eric M. Jones

Special on airfares...apprentice pilots.....

Craig Rojek

I once got a 25 cent haircut at a barber's school, approximately 30 years ago. I would at least consider it again if I wanted something as simple as a crewcut. Not that I go for any special service or styling these days; I go to Great Clips, which, in my part of the world (the North Shore suburbs of Chicago) runs $15 (before tip).


A few points:
1. This is actually quite common. Beauty schools offer expensive styling for cost of materials for would be clients to give the stylists practice. So far steeper a "cut" than the 50% here.

2. Where do you think experienced stylists come from?

3. This is actually quite forthright. They could just charge full price and not say one way or another. And the good thing is that it sets the right expectations with the customer. I'm willing to give you a shot for a savings and if you don't mess up too bad then I'm not going to feel the need to demand a full refund.


At Moctezuma subway station,mexico city,there is an beautitians academy where the cut goes for free.Typical users are poor students,unemployed,housewives,and even bad paid office workers.
Only problem is to wait two hours until there is a place.Worst on saturdays.
I confess to have used the service a couple of times,but it was because a girl I was very interested in , had to present exams making some difficult cut to amateur models.

In Mexico,for the records,gay stylists charge more money for the same cuts.A neighbor of mine was not gay,but in order to be accepted at a prestigious place,pretended to be.!


I get discount cuts for less than that often. My cut is simple enough to perform myself, and I often do. The place I frequent is $7, $8 with tip. Most of the barbers barely speak English. I've had a few bad cuts there over the years, but the same goes for standard priced places.


A bad haircut is a lot less dangerous and short-lived than a root canal.
Boomers, Markets & Money


This kind of offer is very common in Brazil. But here the offer is never made by the barber shops, but by professional schools, which usually have barber shop/beauty parlor as a training place.

Rex McClure

I don't know if it's fair to draw a parallel between hair cut and dentistry. A hair cut, no matter poorly done, is a temporary thing. And (hopefully) painless, though I have shed some blood in the barber's chair. Dentistry, no matter how expertly done, and how often you floss and brush, involves pain and blood.

As my dear old dad used to say:
What's the difference between a good hair cut and a bad hair cut?
Three days.