Why one NY barber is cutting hair in the back of a truck

Josh Einiger Image
Friday, December 27, 2019
Why one NY barber is cutting hair in the back of a truck
Josh Einiger has the story from the Upper West Side.

UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan (WABC) -- One business owner is trying to cope with the ghost town epidemic that is infecting so many blocks of New York City - empty stores because the rent is so high.

Local barber John Rivera is cutting hair in the back of a truck rather than paying rent.

Rivera offers all of the comforts of a high-end barbershop, with a few minor nicks.

The 'New York Barber' as it is called, is in the back of a giant box truck parked on 79th Street and Broadway on the Upper West Side.

Rivera needed to run the engine for a few minutes to charge his batteries.

He was laid off when his last shop lost its lease and decided to strike out on his own

"A 750 square foot space. When I asked to rent it, they were asking $25,000 a month," Rivera said.

There were vacancies everywhere, but he was still priced out. So he and a partner bought an old truck, fitted it out and hit the road. It was a creative answer to a true epidemic.

Rivera may have trimmed his overhead, but he still has to worry about alternate side parking rules and feeding the meter. Though an occasional parking ticket is still better than paying rent.

Rivera usually stays around the Upper West Side. GPS linked to his website tells clients where to find him. And he is finding that his loyal customers will follow him anywhere.

"It's only in New York - it is, it really is. I mean we're on 79th Street, he's got a truck and we're getting a haircut. I mean, where else can that take place?" said client Jonathan Lewis.

Closing time gets a little complicated when you have to worry about street cleaning rules.

On Thursday night, Rivera folded up, shut down and drove off, combing the neighborhood for a parking spot where he can open back up on Friday.


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