Published 5:04 pm, Sunday, August 20, 2017
Photo: Catherine Avalone/New Haven Register
NEW HAVEN >> Luis Gonzalez’s son came up with the idea of his father purchasing a truck and turning it into a barbershop.
Five years later, Gonzalez, 41, is the owner of the Mobile Barber Shop, now located at the corner of Lloyd and Chapel streets in the parking lot of Second Star of Jacob church.
According to Gonzalez, the barbershop on wheels is the first of its kind in the city.
“My son thought it was a good idea to purchase a truck and create it as a barbershop,” said Gonzalez, who started cutting hair at 16 in Puerto Rico. “He had me thinking about it and I eventually purchased the truck.”
Gonzalez said when he expressed the idea to others, there were many naysayers.
“A lot of people thought I was crazy and said it didn’t make sense, but I kept going,” said Gonzalez, who moved to the city 20 years ago. So far, “I’ve been doing very well; I have to give credit to my son for the idea.”
The shop is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Before opening his own business, Gonzalez was cutting hair in various shops in Fair Haven and in the Hill section of the city.
Long-time customer Alberto Colon said the shop is unique and creative feature for the community.
“It’s a good setup and a great opportunity to be creative; there is a lot of parking for customers, said Colon who’s been a customer for years. “It’s the only mobile shop in New Haven; it’s convenient and you don’t have to go to the city.”
The truck is a Ford Chevy 350, which at one point was used to transport the elderly.
Gonzalez said his ultimate goal is to one day set up his shop on Long Wharf, where all the food trucks are located.
“It was a dream of mine to have my own shop, but my biggest dream is to be among the other trucks on Long Wharf,” said Gonzalez.
He said he has had some challenges with the city with retaining a permit.
“It’s new and normally there are only food trucks there” said Gonzalez. “I want to add a new element there. I’m not trying to compete, this will be a new service; they shouldn’t see me as competition, but something that’s complementing what’s already there.”
But for now, he is looking to expand his business. He has purchased a school bus to add other barbers.
“The new bus will have three barbers; it’s been a demand since I’ve open the mobile shop, so I need to expand,” he said.
Plans are set to open the new mobile shop next summer.
With the current truck, “I’d turn this into a mobile beauty salon for women.”
Since having the truck, Gonzalez said he has been talking to people all over the country who are planning to open other mobile barber units in their areas.
“I’ve always wanted to be a business man,” he said. “I hope I can inspire other people to reach for their dreams; if I can do it, anyone can.”
To schedule an appointment, call 203-887-4325.