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Experience the Difference

Avon Barber Shop has a heart for people.

Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing

Step inside Avon Barber Shop (ABS) and amidst the razors, combs, styling products, and Colts paraphernalia you’ll find cross figurines, a prayer board and banners that say, “Jesus is Lord.” You’ll also see men cutting hair who are bearded and tattooed. In fact, a jet-black t-shirt hangs on a wall that reads, “Jesus loves me and my tattoos.”

There’s one more sign that is prevalent in the shop, and it sums up the entire atmosphere of ABS: “Experience the difference.”

When Dave Collins decided to open his own barber shop a little over two years ago, he had a clear vision for what he didn’t want it to be. Most of the barber shops he’d worked in had marijuana smoke hanging in the air, along with profanity-riddled music blaring in the background.

“I wanted to have a place where mothers could bring their children, where grandfathers could bring their grandsons and where everyone would feel comfortable sitting in the chair,” Collins says.

The path that brought him here was long and winding. He didn’t originally set out to be a barber. In fact, he was in the midst of pursuing an entirely different career, but he was unsatisfied. So, when a friend suggested to Collins that he open a barber shop in Avon, he got to work on a business plan. Unfortunately, he encountered his fair share of snags getting the place up and running — that is, until divine intervention stepped in.

“I was $4,620 short of what I needed to rent the space,” Collins says. “I didn’t have it, so I was getting ready to take the TVs off the walls and give up. Then I got a call telling me that I had a 401K with $4,626 in it. It was $6 over what I needed. Enough to buy myself lunch.”

The televisions stayed on the walls, and on December 27, 2014, the doors to Avon Barber Shop opened. Though the shop didn’t initially take off, positive reviews spread through social media’s Town of Avon Chatter, prompting customer growth.

“That total acceptance from the community means a lot,” Collins says. “Here we all are, bearded and tattooed, but people appreciate the way we treat them. They’re not scared of how we look.”

What can be scary, however, is finding the nerve to openly express one’s faith. Collins does so boldly, choosing to display his faith in all aspects of his life —including his business. One way he does so is by setting up a prayer board where customers can post fears, struggles and concerns. Then every morning, Collins and his team of barbers gather in a circle to pray.

“We set an alarm and right at 10, we stop what we’re doing, come into the center of the room, join hands and pray for 60 seconds,” Collins says. It’s a practice that barber Zach Short admits initially made him uncomfortable.

“I worried about being judged or offending someone,” Short says. “But now that I’ve witnessed the power of prayer, I’ve been completely transformed. My health, my relationships and my attitude have all gotten better since giving my life over to God.”

Now ministering to people is part of his everyday job as he and his colleagues cut, care, shave and share. It’s what Short jokingly refers to as non-licensed “chair-a-py” where customers come not just for shampoos and cuts but also for moral support.

One of the shop’s beloved customers is currently battling cancer, and in the last two years the guys at ABS have become this man’s family.

“The chemo has taken his hair, so he doesn’t come in for cuts,” Short says. “He comes for the support.”

In a way, Short shows up to work for the same reason.

“I’ve made a lot of bad choices in my life,” he says. “I could have easily landed somewhere else, but I came to Avon two years ago to do my barber internship and this place grabbed hold of me.”

Despite having multiple barber shops close to his residence, fellow barber Jay Wilson also commutes to work. And his customers couldn’t be more thrilled.

Troy Pflugner says he frequents ABS for the professionalism, the attention to detail, the laughs, the conversations and the dedication to supporting community causes, such as domestic abuse and prison ministries. In addition, every summer Collins and his team offer free “Cuts for Kids” prior to the start of school to give back to the community. Though Collins claims that any time he gives of himself, he gets back tenfold.

“You can’t out-give God — not financially, not emotionally. It’s impossible,” he says.

“Jay, Dave, Zach, Mike, Cory, Kris and Worland — they all care about their customers and our community they serve,” says Pflugner, who also brings his sons Carter (5) and Colton (2) for haircuts. “There is no better group of barbers in Indiana.”

Collins is humbled by the compliment but more humbled by God.

“This place is more than cutting hair, telling jokes and sweeping up at night,” Collins says. “The purpose of this barber shop is to make Christ cool.”

Open Monday through Saturday, Avon Barber Shop is located at 8401 E. US 36, Suite E.

About Christy Heitger-Ewing

Christy Heitger-Ewing is an award-winning writer and columnist who writes human interest stories for national, regional, and local magazines. She is also the author of the book “Cabin Glory: Amusing Tales of Time Spent at the Family Retreat” (www.cabinglory.com).

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