BANGOR — With a skilful “snip-snip” here and a “bzz-bzz” there, Eriel Coulter ensures that a young Maine National Guardsman will pass inspection his next drill weekend.
He trusted Coulter to cut his hair to regulation length — and that’s what she has done at Details by Eriel, the barber shop that she opened at 198 Exchange St. in November 2011.
Since then Coulter has expanded her shop from one chair to four chairs as “news about us has gotten around town by word of mouth,” she says. Four barbers/stylists now handle the steady customers and “walk-ins.”
In a profession dominated by men, Details by Eriel is the exception with three women barbers/stylists (including Coulter) and one male barber/stylist, Scott Weeks, a Bernard’s School of Hair Fashion graduate who joined Details four months ago.
On this pleasantly sunny and warm August afternoon, he sits in the chair next to Coulter’s and watches the wall mirror as, with a comb in her left hand and an electric trimmer in her right hand, another “Details” barber/stylist administers the final touches to Weeks’ hair.
“You’re not going to believe my last name,” the barber/stylist says with a smile. “I’m Ginny Trimmer.”
She’s not kidding. “I have 22 years’ experience in salons,” Trimmer says later, after Weeks has stepped from the chair. “In 2009 I switched over to barber shops and cutting” men’s hair.
“I enjoy cutting” hair, Trimmer explains.
Coulter concurs. “Men’s hair styling is more precise; you have to pay close attention to what the customer wants, and everything has to be just right,” she says.
“I’ve been in the business since ’99. I transferred from a beauty shop to a barber shop four years ago,” Coulter points out. “I personally went into the precision of the cutting. It’s demanding; you have to pay attention.
“Most of my clientele were military, firefighters, police,” she says. “They kept asking me why I didn’t go into business for myself.”
Coulter did so 21 months ago by leasing space near the intersection of Exchange and York streets. “It’s a good location” with “great visibility,” she comments, gazing briefly at the shop’s tinted windows.
Details by Eriel specializes in providing haircuts and trimming facial hair, including beards and moustaches. While many customers are employed in professions requiring short hair, other customers seek “gentlemen’s cuts,” with the hair “layered back and still brushable,” Coulter says.
Women also seek haircuts at Details by Eriel. “They might be ladies [who are] in the service or appreciate short hair,” Coulter says. “We have some older women” who save money by having their hair trimmed by a skilled barber/stylist rather than in a salon.
The shop features a relaxed atmosphere where customers can chat or read as they await their turns in a chair. “Our customers really like the fact [that] it’s really laid back in here,” Coulter says. “They come in and read the paper. They never know what the conversation is going to be. Our customers compare it to visiting friends.”
“One customer said to me, ‘It’s a friendly atmosphere in here,’” Trimmer comments.
A sign next to the mirror facing Coulter’s chair mentions “Free Beer Fridays.” Coulter explains that for “any service done on a Friday, we’re allowed to give you one free complimentary beverage.” Budweiser and Bud Light are kept cold in the barber shop’s refrigerator.
Like Weeks, Details’ barber/stylist Erin Wiswell Crane also graduated from Bernard’s School of Hair Fashion. Crane, Trimmer, and Weeks rent booths from Coulter and, according to Weeks, provide valuable advice to each other.
“I’ve only been cutting fair for three years. The ladies here, they’ve taken me under their wings” and “helped me become a better barber” and stylist, he explains. “If I’ve had any issues or questions, they’ve been willing to give me good advice.
“Here I have a career,” Weeks says.
The standard price for a Details’ haircut is $14. “We offer the serviceman or –woman a $2 discount” that extends to the customer’s “whole family,” Coulter says. This discount encompasses firefighters, police officers, and other people employed in similar professions, she stresses.
Details by Eriel has developed “a very loyal” customer base, Coulter comments. Some customers drive long distances for their haircuts; many customers live in the greater Bangor area. Ages range from “the first haircuts for children to great-grandfathers,” she says.
“We’ve been busy enough in a year and a half [that] I’ve gone from one chair to four chairs,” Coulter notes.
Details by Eriel is open 8 a.m.-6 p.m., Monday-Friday, and 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday. The shop is closed on Sunday. For more information, call 299-8388.