By Ashley Chambers
In the heart of East Oakland, down the busy expressway of 98th Avenue, Gents Barbershop is an “urban sanctuary” for men looking to get a clean cut and relax from the daily grind. Designed with an old school 40’s and 50’s vibe, brick walls, mahogany stations, and a complimentary bar serving non-alcoholic drinks, customers who walk into Gents receive the complete experience.
Debating politics while getting a low fade, getting a Mohawk trimmed up and talking about the latest techno toys, or sitting back in one of the reclining chairs to get a razor shave as MTV Jams play on the flat screen in the background, make this barbershop comfortable for all.
Owner and former Oakland teacher, Marlon McWilson built Gents two years ago under the Brookfield Place Apartments and prides himself on having a “high quality barbershop with premier services and cost-effective prices.” Customers are treated to complimentary razor lines, a hot towel on request, and scalp manipulation that come standard with a haircut.
Citing his childhood growing up around his grandmother as she hot combed heads on Saturday mornings, McWilson, who wears a clean-shaven bald head with a perfectly trimmed mustache and beard, says, “I always knew I wanted to open a barbershop; you can go to the barbershop anytime of the week, no inhibitions.”
Barbers include Javon “JJ” Johnson, one of McWilson’s former students wearing a chin-strap mustache and hi-top fade; Ronald “Ron the Barber” Anglon II, wearing a taper; and Dwight “Get It N” Blanchard, rocking a shadow fade.
If a customer comes in asking for a high fade or shadowed in, a taper or wants a goatee trimmed up, or even a line in the back and a shaven mustache, these young men know how to line it up.
Although sitting in the barber’s chair watching football games and laughing over ESPN updates is not all that’s going on. McWilson and his three barbers also take the time to motivate young students, lining up their academics and goals and fading the negativity.
“A lot of kids who come to the barbershop, I taught them as a teacher. For me to see kids going from good students, having outside forces against them and still succeeding, it’s a good thing,” McWilson says.
Also a member of the Alameda County Board of Education, McWilson says he wants to raise the expectations of the community and open a chain of Gents Barbershops.
For more information, contact Marlon McWilson at (510) 388-1556.
Gents Barbershop is located at 555 98th Ave., Oakland.