During a 1998 business trip in Knoxville, Tennessee, Jim Valenzuela happened upon an old-fashioned barbershop.
Memories of getting his hair cut at Nick’s Barbershop on Congress Street and London Town Barbershop on Pima Street in Tucson came flooding back.
“That was the spark,” the Sahuaro High School and University of Arizona alum said.
Although Valenzuela was not a barber, and didn’t even know where to buy a comb, he joked, the following year he opened his first V’s Barbershop in his new hometown of Phoenix.
Today he has 31 shops in 14 states across the United States, and last year his company opened its first in the Tucson market.
“I always wanted to go back home,” he said. “It meant something to me, and my dad had a lot of friends in town.”
His father, the late Diego Valenzuela, was the owner of the famed Tucson restaurant Gordo’s Mexicateria on East Broadway — billed as the place to eat if you really, really liked chimichangas.
The Tucson V’s Barbershop is in Joesler Village, at East River Road and North Campbell Avenue.
The upscale shop features antique barber chairs, and barbers in uniform.
Services include haircuts, shaves with hot lather, facials, shoulder massages and shoe shines.
V’s recently obtained a liquor license and now offers customers a complimentary beer with service.
“The beer is a perk,” said Tyler Muniz, as he enjoyed a cold Corona while getting his monthly haircut on a recent weekday.
“It’s old-school and feels like a family,” the firefighter said. “Everyone always remembers you.”
Jimmie Roper has been a barber for 60 years and works part time at V’s.
Formerly a barber at A Model Barbershop, near Campbell Avenue and Grant Road, Roper, 84, said many of his customers have been with him for years — in one case for five generations.
“Customers are mostly working businessmen and there are some retirees,” he said.
A handful of women with very short hairstyles patronize the barbershop, but the majority of customers are men.
The lather is hot and the face towels steaming.
A haircut includes a shoulder massage. A shave includes a facial massage with coconut cream, followed by a spice spray.
“We’ve brought back the old-fashioned,” Roper said.
Aside from the shop’s physical appearance, the training of the staff was key to the business, the company’s founder said.
“They say, ‘Yes, ma’am, or no, sir,’” Valenzuela said. “Details matter.”
He said the typical customer at all his shops — which are now franchised — is an affluent businessman.
The Tucson shop has six employees and is owned by Elson Revak.
Services start at $23 for a haircut ($19 for seniors) and $30 for a straight razor shave.
All V’s shops offer 20 percent off to active-duty and reserve military members, veterans and first responders with valid identification.
“We can’t thank our veterans, law enforcement, emergency services and U.S. military personnel enough for all they do and have done for our country,” Valenzuela said.