Columbus Clippers: Josh Wilbur of Old Familiar

Elizabeth Weinstein, Columbus Alive contributor

Walking into Old Familiar Barbershop for the first time, you can almost feel the testosterone wafting through the air. Or maybe it's just the combination of beer, aftershave and Layrite pomade.

Old Familiar, in Olde Towne East, is the ultimate man cave for the modern, hipster-leaning Columbus dude who appreciates the personal attention, camaraderie and budget-friendly prices of a trendy but old-school-inspired barbershop.

The shop's decor is a study in eccentricity. From the mounted deer heads and wild game that line its walls and the spray painted retro theatre seats in the waiting area, to a fridge full of beer and a magazine rack stocked with back issues ofPlayboy andImbibe. It's a place that makes it easy for clients to let their guard down and put their feet up (Old Familiar does offer a shoe shine service).

It's the brainchild of friends/co-owners Josh Wilbur and Kenji Prince, who opened the shop together four years ago, with little more than a dream.

"You can tell that the shop wasn't put together with money. We didn't have a lot of money. It just slowly has become what it is," Wilbur said.

When Prince first showed Wilbur the building that Old Familiar now calls home, Wilbur admitted he was skeptical. For starters, there was no ceiling, and junk was piled up from floor to ceiling. But Prince, he said, had a vision, and Wilbur trusted him.

"We agreed that we were going to do this together and we put everything we had into it. April 1 was our four-year anniversary," he said.

That leap of faith has paid off in a big way. The shop is always busy. Loyal clients book appointments up to a month in advance, and although Old Familiar offers walk-in services, those slots fill up quickly.

Cutting hair runs in Wilbur's blood. His mom has worked as a hairstylist for more than 20 years, and he spent his childhood experimenting with clippers - on his own 'do and on his brave friends' locks.

"My mom had a buddy who owned a barber shop near her salon, so we'd get free haircuts if we swept all day," he said. "At that time, I didn't even think it was something I'd be doing. It was just something we were used to."

In high school, Wilbur found himself spending more and more time hanging around barbershops, and one day it hit him. "This could be a job." He earned his barber's license from Ohio State College of Barber Styling at age 18 and hasn't looked back.

He and Prince have worked to recreate the feeling of barbershops from back in the day, when they were considered "a man's territory - like a neighborhood hub," he explained. (For the record, Old Familiar specializes in men's cuts but never turns women clients away.)

"What we notice now is that a lot of people are into old school styles, like razor parts and straight razor shaves. That brings people in, but once they are here they realize, 'I really like it here. I want to be a part of something like this.'"

Old Familiar Barbershop

116 Parsons Ave.

Olde Towne East