A hot dog, beer and a haircut?
Fans can obtain all three at Madison, Alabama's Toyota Field, home of the Rocket City Trash Pandas. The brand-new ballpark includes a mobile barbershop on the left field concourse, overseen by local barber and business man Kevin Thomas. Haircuts are available during every
A hot dog, beer and a haircut?
Fans can obtain all three at Madison, Alabama's Toyota Field, home of the Rocket City Trash Pandas. The brand-new ballpark includes a mobile barbershop on the left field concourse, overseen by local barber and business man Kevin Thomas. Haircuts are available during every home game, resulting in one of America's most unique personal grooming environments.
"I’m known as Kevin Da Barber around here in Madison, Alabama," said Thomas, speaking during Saturday's Trash Pandas game. "I’m originally from Birmingham. I came here for college and never left. ... I started [cutting hair] when I was 16. And then when I went off to college, I had to find a job so I decided to do it in my dorm room and basically I started cutting everybody on my floor. And I realized I could do it, so that's when I started working at a barber shop. I finished school, but I decided to take on my career of being a barber."
Thomas is more than a barber. He's a businessman. He has his own shop in Madison, Marvelous Cuts, and also serves as CEO of the Global Barber Federation. This network of local hairstylists operates out of mobile barber units around the area; there are currently four units, and Thomas is always looking for ways to expand. Enter the Rocket City Trash Pandas, Double-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels. The Trash Pandas, who relocated from Mobile, Alabama, are currently in the midst of their inaugural season.
"When they started building the park, I told my business partner [Vincent Biffle], 'I believe we could put a barber shop up in the park," said Thomas. "Because I had a few connections with the city, they told me to come out to the groundbreaking and I handed my proposal to one of the guys. They took it, and one day I got a phone call. They wanted to meet me and see what it was all about. Why I wanted to put a barber shop at a baseball park."
Trash Pandas general manager Garrett Fahrmann, intrigued by the idea, visited Thomas' house to get a better sense of what the barber shop would look like.
"When I walked into his garage, he had a full standalone barber shop set up," said Fahrmann. "We went back and forth on how and where we would get it in the ballpark. We finally settled on a space in the Toyota Outfield Experience next to the entry gate from [ballpark apartment complex] Town Madison. He set up a tent to cover the barbershop, and set up a TV and video game console for people to play while they waited their turn for a haircut."
The ballpark unit, comprising 54 square feet, includes power hookups, running water and storage space for all the tools of the barber trade. Approximately 60 fans have gotten their hair cut at Toyota Field thus far, many of them lured by the unique set-up and experience.
" A lot of people see us while they’re ordering a beer and then think, 'Why not, I can get a haircut,'" said Thomas. "It has been very diverse. ... We cut all types of hair here."
"When people ask what’s in the Toyota Outfield Experience and we mention a barbershop, they usually respond with 'You have a what?'" added Fahrmann. "It’s been pretty popular and people really do utilize it during the game."
Thomas envisions Global Barber Federation mobile units at ballparks all over the region. He said his next goal, currently in the works, is to establish a similar set-up with his hometown Birmingham Barons.
"I’m planning to go to more places, more ballparks," he said. "We’re gonna put them in malls and truck stops and we’re trying to get it out to airports, too. We’re going to put them everywhere."
Benjamin Hill is a reporter for MiLB.com and writes Ben's Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter @bensbiz.