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


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  1. Clint Williams says:

    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.

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  2. lindsey says:

    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!)

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    • Bob says:

      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.

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      • Enter your name... says:

        I’m betting that Lindsey has long, colored hair. $200 for washing, drying, cutting, and coloring long hair is not out of the question. A mid-priced salon near me charges $150 for just cutting and coloring.

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      • Joe J says:

        Have a neighbor who is a top of the line hair stylist. 200-300/month would be what his regulars pay. The lowest he charges for any service is 100. The most expensive was whatever a Brazilian blowout was. So there is a market. He mentioned once his most valuable client was a newscaster, came in every 10 days for a trim and touch up.

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      • Lynn says:

        Bob, highlights for a woman’s hair is about $70 and a cut, style, wash, consult, and tip for $50 is not crazy. She was right. Coloring is expensive

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  3. Dirk T says:

    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?

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  4. Douglas says:

    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.

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  5. James says:

    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.

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    • Enter your name... says:

      A crewcut just isn’t that hard.

      And what sort of “indignity” is there in getting simple haircut (so simple, that many people do it at home) from a trainee? It’s about getting your hair cut, not about boosting your ego.

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  6. 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.

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  7. Greg says:

    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.

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  8. cjc says:

    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.

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