Local entrepreneur Bobby Jordan didn’t want anything to do with the family business.
Jordan grew up hanging out in his father’s barber shop in Catfish Alley. He shined shoes for spending money and swore, like most teenagers that he would do anything but hair when he got the chance. And he did – Jordan went into the grocery business for about 10 years before he felt a call to take over the family trade.
“When you grow up around something, it’s the last thing you want to do,” explained the 54-year-old New Hope High graduate. “I was raised in the business so I went in a completely different direction.”
He worked at Kroger and then Sunflower, where he was a supervisor in the produce department.
But something was missing. “They didn’t love me there,” he said. “I decided to come back here where they love me.”
Ensconced in the warm embrace of familial bonds, Jordan started training to cut hair. He said it felt right to go back home.
“I saw that my Dad was getting older and needed help. I guess you go all the way around the world to find out what you wanted was back home.”
One of seven siblings, Jordan wasn’t the only one that got burnt out on brushes and shears at first. None of his four brothers were interested in hair and only one of his two sisters decided to stay around when they were young. Now wiser, one of his older brothers, James, and Jordan’s son Chalis, both work with him at their expanded shop, which has a salon, shoe shine and sells things like drinks, snacks, and hair care products.
Jordan’s family however has no reluctance to take on the trade. His wife Renee does nails, and both his daughter Kammie, 34, and his son Chalis, 24, went into the business.
Jordan’s daughter Kammie lives in New York with her daughter Ashley. Jordan brags often of his granddaughters accomplishments as an actress and several of her headshots are hung on the mirror at his station.
“Ashley’s an actress in New York,” he bragged smiling. “She did Broadway in The Lion King, The Color Purple and has done commercial work. She’s 17 now and goes to a performing arts school in Times Square.” It’s easy to tell he’s absolutely smitten with his grandchild.
Jordan has been cutting hair for 23 years now. He trained for a year at Gibson’s Barber School in West Point. When asked if having family in the business helped him in school he said smiling that he was able to benefit from growing up in the trade mostly because he knew he would have a place to work.
“I had a leg up because I had a place to work with established credibility. I didn’t have much formal training, but they prefer it if you don’t have much training, cuz then you’ll listen,” he explained.
Because Jordan returned to the family business his father, Adam Jordan, now deceased, was able to move over to management. He said it wasn’t bittersweet to take over his father’s clientele; it’s just that everyone has their time.
“Everybody is going to have their day; everybody is going to fade out. My sister and I took (my father’s) clients, and now my son’s taking mine.”
Jordan says he takes his pride in making people look the best they can.
“I’ve always been the type of person who likes to be able to see a transformation, see what I’ve done at the end of the day,” he said. “But we don’t take the credit. There’s not much you can do to a diamond. Just polish it up and try to make people look their best.”
He has also filled the shop with wares to sell like candy, drinks, and even shoes. Jordan says it’s because he spent enough time in retail to know that people will hang around if everything they need is there.
“Anytime you have traffic you have sales,” he said. “If you have what they need in the building, they don’t leave. Someone might come in to buy a Packet and decide to get a haircut. I’ve also got credit card machines and Wifi. It’s all a part of it.
“I remember father said when I was remodeling the shop that I wasn’t changing the place, I was building on the foundation,” he said.
His business practices are working for him as well. Jordan says they have customers come all the way from Kennedy, Reform and Winfield to get their hair cut because they know the Jordan’s and that they will get quality service.
“Because we’ve been around for a while, in most places when people come to town and need a barber shop, people refer (them to us),” he said. “People and their children that came here to see my father now come to see me and my son.” It really is a family business.
The now 40+ year-old business has been on its Military Road location for 22 years and the walls are filled with posters for events long past, photos and trinkets that serve as conversation pieces. Jordan says he likes the place to “tell a story.” And like his own, it’s a pretty interesting one.