“We The People” is painted above the red, white and blue mirrors at Valor Barbershop. The chairs are accompanied by capes printed with the American flag.
“I wanted a place where, No. 1, you could celebrate America,” said Brock Conrad, owner of Valor Barbershop. “People can come in and be a patriot, and veterans and first responders can feel at home.”
Conrad, who served as a helicopter mechanic in the United States Army during the 1990s, opened Valor Barbershop, 2217 W. 34th St. Ste. E., on July 11. While everyone is welcome, the space Conrad created is an outlet where veterans or first responders, both men and women, can talk about subjects not everyone can understand.
“I’ll be cutting a guy’s hair and we can talk about the military or the Army, or what they’ve been through or what I’ve been through,” Conrad said. “We have a camaraderie.”
Conrad experienced that recently when an elderly Vietnam War veteran came into the shop. Because of the extra time Conrad had, he didn’t have to rush the veteran’s shave or haircut, allowing him to tell multiple stories about his time in service.
While Conrad began cutting hair years ago, even during his time in the military, he didn’t go to school for it until six years ago. Then about three years ago, Conrad took a year off to study in different cities with the top brands in the hair industry to perfect his craft.
“I’m licensed as a cosmetology instructor and a barber instructor, so I do both,” Conrad said. “So not only can I give a guy a really good fade and a really good shave, when it comes to the top of his hair and he has the really crazy cowlick, I can cut that hair.”
His ultimate goal was to own his own shop, and the pieces for Valor fell into place at an opportune time.
“Up until recently the military was just something I did. Everybody went to college. I went to the Army,” Conrad said. “I started seeing some guys come back and the mental issues they’ve had, and I just feel like we should take more care of veterans.”
He said one of the best ways he’s able to give back is through selling merchandise at his shop.
“I have T-shirts that I sell that part of the proceeds go to an organization called Stop Soldier Suicide,” Conrad said. “We lose 22 a day to suicide. I’ve lost a few friends to that. It’s something near and dear to my heart.”
Another way Conrad has given back is by offering discounts to active-duty military, veterans, first responders, teachers and nurses. For example, a standard haircut for men is $30, and he offers $5 off. He also has an “enhanced” haircut for men that includes a hot towel, razor cleanup and edging for $45, and he offers it at the same price as the standard haircut.
Since opening, the shop has hosted two events — one at the end of July and another on Sept. 11 — where first responders got free haircuts. On Sept. 11, female first responders, teachers and nurses received free blowouts.
“A lot of the basis that I spend my day on is how are there ways I can give without impacting the business,” Conrad said.
On Veterans Day in November, Conrad hopes to raise money for veterans.