This year during the annual spring Schnitzelburg Walk, some exciting signs went up in the windows of an empty Germantown duplex. The sign read: “Derby City Chop Shop Germantown. Coming Soon.”
It made my heart skip a beat when I first saw it.
For almost eight years, the Chop Shop in the Highlands has been a hip spot in town to get a fresh cut. It’s cheaper than most salons, and the cut you get seems better than a haircut from anywhere else in town — in my humble opinion.
The quality and price, however, have produced one not-so-great side-effect — near legendary wait times. It’s not uncommon to wait two hours, and they can stretch even longer close to holidays.
“Derby week, the wait was insane — at one point it was over four hours,” shop owner Adam Hedgespeth tells Insider.
But that wait time is just a part of getting it right.
“Our thing has always been quality. It takes a little more time, it’s a little slower. And you know, everybody is in a big hurry when they are waiting, but once they get in the chair, not so much anymore,” he says.
Still, it was clear that Louisville wants more Chop Shop than it currently has, and Hedgespeth is eager to provide it, though it’s taking time. He’s been in the process of finding the right location for two years, and he’s gotten close to closing the deal a couple times — but those all fell through.
Real estate in Germantown and Schnitzelburg has skyrocketed in price, making it difficult for Hedgespeth to find a spot. He finally settled on a building across the street from Check’s Cafe, next to Monnik Beer Co. It’s an added bonus for any customers who end up waiting for a cut in the new spot.
Last year, the Chop Shop started using an app that informs customers by text when their turn in line is getting close; so patrons at the new location will be able to show up, enter their name, and go have some fried fish or some Louisville-made brew.
But before you can sip craft beer while waiting for your retro artisanal haircut, Hedgespeth has his work cut out for him getting the new shop ready. The building will basically be stripped back to the brick. There is a load-bearing wall that has to be removed and replaced with freestanding columns. The shop will have new floors, a new ceiling and new walls.
When it’s finished, there will be space for eight new chairs, as well as an employee break room and an office — niceties the original Chop Shop lacked.
You can expect the general aesthetic to mostly stay the same, if a little less cluttered. No one’s musical taste will magically change, and to keep that retro feel, Hedgespeth has a dealer in Nashville sourcing vintage barber chairs.
“It’s sort of like old cars. You can still work on them. They’re simpler, and … they’re heavy duty,” he explains. “So if you get those, even if they’re in rough cosmetic shape, you just reupholster them and they’ll last forever.”
Hedgespeth will run the day to day operations at the new space, leaving Brandon Amos to run the Bardstown Road location. Amos has been working with Hedgespeth since the original shop opened in ’09. At the time, he and Hedgespecth were the only employees, and Amos has stuck around since.
That’s not a rarity for the Chop Shop, which has an insanely low turnover rate. In eight years, they’ve had a total of 12 barbers, 11 of which are still with the company. The only barber who left did so because he was moving away.
Some of those barbers will be moving with Hedgespeth to the new shop, but he’s planning on taking it slow.
“We’re gonna open cautiously — we’ll have three or four (barbers) over here, and then just kinda see what happens,” says Hedgespeth. “If we’re lined up down the street, I’ll get another couple in here as quick as I can.”
That slow growth is one of the things that has kept the Chop Shop’s quality so high.
“I’ve always been lucky with that, it’s sort of handled itself. With the reputation we’ve established, people sort of know where they need to be if they wanna come work with us,” says Hedgespeth.
Lots of Chop Shop devotees have a favorite barber, but some may be wondering about the future location of a very special Chop Shop employee. Dice, the adorable french bulldog and erstwhile Chop Shop guardian, is a bright spot of any visit.
“I mean, she is my dog, and she’s with me all the time,” says Hedgespeth, admitting that breaking the news to the Bardstown Road customers may be tough. “Yeah, it really is like an issue. She’s the mascot, and she’s been in there since … I think we got her like two months before we opened, and she started coming in a month or two after.”
I know which shop I’ll be patronizing when the time comes. #TeamDice
It will be several months before the new shop opens. Hedgespeth isn’t announcing a date yet, though he says that once work gets started, he imagines it will go fast. But he’s not rushing.
His feelings on renovating the new space are pretty much the same as his philosophy on cutting hair.
“We just try to make it worth waiting for.”
We’ll be sure to keep you updated on the opening of the Germantown location. In the meantime, I’ll still happily wait a couple hours for the best haircut in town.