Bayview barber keeps retro alive, one cut at a time

At a tiny storefront off Highway 525 in Bayview, a barber pole spins only three days a week. Inside the small shop stands a single barber chair tended to by a single hair stylist — owner Jeffrey Wood.

Wood has been running Island Headquarters, located at 5824 Kramer Road for 10 years. As barber shops grow more expensive, chic or trendy, Wood says his shop is bucking the modern for a retro and small-town feel. Hair cuts at Island Headquarters are less than $20, with buzz cuts costing only $10. It’s a barbershop of old, and that’s what Wood is going for.

“I cater to the older guys who used to go to men’s barber shops to talk about what’s going on in town,” Wood said. “I keep the prices low for the old timers who don’t need a $30 hair cut. Some guys come in with three hairs that they want trimmed, so why charge them $30?”

Wood says old-school barber shops are dying out, and numerous details in his shop signal he’s fighting to keep the retro atmosphere alive. Pictures of his customers’ fishing catches are tacked to the wall. Car and outdoor magazines and newspapers are spread across the waiting table. Blues plays in the background. This is definitely not a salon, it’s a men’s barber shop.

“I consider it like a man cave,” Clinton resident Jim O’Brien said. “There are all these cool magazines and the retro chair is also cool. It’s relaxing, low key and where the guys can come to hang out.”

A stack of books also lies on the tables in Island Headquarters — Beneath This Crown of Thorns, Wood’s autobiography. The book is the reason behind his shop’s irregular hours, as Wood cut them down from seven days a week to Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday to focus on writing his book, which he published in June. The book explains a lot about Wood and why he enjoys what he does. It’s all about working with people, making them feel better on their way out the door and leaving a positive impact on their lives.

Wood was diagnosed with schizophrenia at 20 after developing a messiah complex, a state of mind where one thinks they are bound to become a savior. His struggles with mental health have largely crafted who he is today and are the reason behind his passion for helping other men who have gone through their own struggles with mental health and substance abuse. His autobiography details how he overcame his condition and built a healthy and happy life through a holistic approach, rather than guzzling down prescription pills given to him by doctors and pharmacists.

“Realizing you can take responsibility of your life and develop a lifestyle that is enjoyable and healthy is a big first step in overcoming mental health issues,” Wood said.

Wood’s struggles with mental health are now a thing of the past. As he nears retirement, he plans to open up a holistic retreat center with his family, many of whom also work within the psychology and mental health fields. Until then, he’ll continue cutting hair and making his customers feel confident about themselves.

“I like people in general,” Wood said. “I like that somebody can come in with whatever kind of a mood and leave in a better mood. I like having a positive impact on people’s state of mind.”