After putting off the dream of opening her own barbershop, Rea Reeder found a spot at 3716 J Street that was just begging to be the conduit. She leased the place and opened Eddy’s Deluxe Haircuts at the end of 2001. Since then, she’s turned it into a little more than a place to part with unwanted locks. On top of being an old-fashioned neighborhood barbershop, painted a bright mint green inside that’s reminiscent of Depression-era kitchens, Eddy’s is also the ultimate rockabilly joint. The shop sells hard-to-find hair products for greasers, like cans of Flat Top Wax from American Greaser Supply and other pomades. But Reeder’s place is about more than just shaping the perfect pompadour. She also hosts bands, shows local artists and sells rare music, including rockabilly tunes. It’s fitting: Music was the whole point of opening the place. Long overdue for a haircut, I plopped down in the chair, removed my glasses, turned on the tape recorder and quizzed Reeder while she hacked away at my unruly tresses.
Why did you want your own shop?
I’d wanted to open a barbershop for a couple years. And I’d been looking around, and things kept delaying me, like buying a house, but the main thing that made me want to do it was to listen to my own music. And I actually had given up on the idea until I saw this place for rent. It’s been a barbershop since at least 1932. At first, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. I just figured nobody can tell me what I have to do, and I can just do it how I want. But, I thought, “If I like what I like, other people must like what I like, too, and they’ll come here.”
How’s this place different from a regular barbershop?
We don’t talk about sports, there aren’t any Playboys, and there’s no TV—just a lot of music.
Who comes in?
A lot of different people. The rockabillies and the psychobillies, with the big pompadours. They started telling each other about me, so now I try to have a place for those guys to go. But I also get old men, kids and people from the neighborhood.
Do rockabillies need a special touch?
Most people don’t know how to cut hair so that it’s longer in front and shorter in back. People complain all the time that no one can cut their hair the way they want it. The key is to listen to the customers. Too many people think they know exactly how everyone wants their hair cut. If so and so wants it long in front and short in back, that’s really what they mean, and I understand why. If they want a ducktail, they want a ducktail.
You’ve also got art on the walls?
I change the art every month and take part in the second-Saturday art walk. I’m trying to get the art to flow more with the kind of music I play in here—not mainstream art but more car-enthusiast type art.
What music is playing today?
The CD player holds 200 CDs, and it’s almost full. I put it on shuffle, so you can hear anything from Benny Goodman to The Demonics to Hank Williams to Lloyd Tripp. There’s also some Cuban music and surf music. It’s my choice.
Get much response?
Yeah, that’s what got me to start selling CDs. A lot of customers would say, “I could sit here all day and listen to the music. Where do you find this?” And I thought, “Wait a minute. I have all this space. I should sell CDs.”
What’s for sale?
It ranges from rockabilly to old country like honky tonk, bluegrass, psychobilly. Then there’s old punk rock, some indie stuff and old blues. It’s an assortment of weird old stuff you don’t find.
Where did the name ‘Eddy’s Deluxe’ come from?
Eddy is my 5-year-old son. Before me, this was called the Enterprise Barbershop, but before that, it was the Deluxe Barbershop.
What does Eddy think about having the place named after him?
At first, he wasn’t that happy about it because I forgot to ask him if I could use his name, but he likes it. When we first opened, I answered the phone and said, “I’m the owner.” And he said, “No, Mom, I’m the owner!”