It's Your Business | 2 barbershop owners to share tips for success

·4 min read

Jul. 11—If you've ever been interested in opening your own barbershop or salon, here's your chance to hear from two entrepreneurs who know what it takes.

James Buford and Ausharra Knox, two Champaign-Urbana business owners, will be panelists at a session called "So you Want to Own a Barbershop/Salon" to be held at 7 p.m. July 18 at the Champaign Public Library, 200 W. Green St., C.

Buford is the owner of G.A.S. (Grown and Sexy) Barbershop & Hair Salon at 121 W. Church St. in downtown Champaign, and Knox and his family operate Beard Culture Barbershop & Gallery at Lincoln Square, Urbana.

Knox, who opened his combined barber shop and art gallery last year, said business is great.

At the upcoming session at the library, he said he plans to share his own personal experience and what it took to get his own business up and running and to share tips to help others.

One of the biggest challenges he's faced has been recruiting licensed barbers in the community, he said.

Another challenge barber shop hopefuls should expect is the cost of commercial properties these days, he said.

While he already had a clientele when he opened his own shop, Knox said, he's learned to be a business owner by trial and error. And, he said, it's absolutely worthwhile for others to do something they're passionate about.

"I believe in following your dreams," he said.

Buford, who has been in business for nearly 12 years, stresses the importance of having a consistent clientele and offering consistent customer service, including consistency in being available, on time and in the value of service provided.

The most challenging thing in business is having the strength to know you're going to have low moments, he said.

For his own business, he said, "I'm thankful for the clientele that we have."

And he, too, encourages going into this business if it's something you love and enjoy.

"I always tell them, you have to do something you love, something you enjoy doing," he said.

The upcoming session at the library, being presented in partnership with Champaign Center Partnership, is free and open to the public. It will include time for a Q&A and networking.

Coming to Mahomet

A new restaurant called Chophouse on Main will be opening in late August at 401 E. Main St., Mahomet, in the former JT Walker's location.

It will feature two different dining options, with a traditional, more upscale environment on the first floor and more casual dining upstairs with a rooftop bar, according to Kevin Hildebrand, chief operating officer of CRS Hospitality LLC of Champaign, the restaurant operator.

The menu will include steaks, seafood and sandwiches, he said.

Reservations for the main dining area will begin about a week before the opening, with the date to be announced in the near future.

"We look forward to bringing a new dining experience to Mahomet and are excited to become part of the community," said Chris Saunders, president of CRS Hospitality.

CRS Hospitality's portfolio includes several other restaurants and bars in Champaign, including The City Center, Fat City Bar and Grill, The Ribeye, Illini Inn and Taco John's, plus a Culver's franchise in Nebraska, according to Hildebrand.

JT Walker's owner Justin Taylor said he's still in the process of trying to reopen a smaller version of JT Walker's across the street, where his brewery and taproom is located. But he's been delayed by difficulty hiring enough employees, lack of time and some equipment being stolen, he said.

For now, the brewery and taproom at 402 E. Main St. is open from 5 to 10 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday for drinks only. Until he gets food service started there, he said, customers are welcome to bring in their own food or have it delivered there.

Moving news

There's a new U-Haul dealer in Champaign — 3H Express, 313 N. Mattis Ave. — according to U-Haul Company of Illinois.

3H Express will offer do-it-yourself movers U-Haul trucks, trailers, towing equipment, support rental items and in-store pickup for boxes.