A cut above the rest | SkyHiNews.com

A cut above the rest

There is something about an old school barbershop that makes men smile.

It is an institution from a bygone era, before the days of franchise studios and high-end salons. It was a time when cowboys rode the range and stopped in for quick haircuts and shots of whiskey before a weekend on the town; when well groomed, mustachioed men sharpened strait razors on leather straps and talked weather and politics just to pass the time.

That traditional barbershop experience has returned to the Fraser Valley at Whittler's Barbershop, located on the second floor of the Fraser Valley Shopping Center above Julio's Mexican Grill. Barber Jason Craig owns Whittler's Barbershop and operates the business with the help of his family.

"I wanted to do something more exciting," Craig said with a grin. "I have always enjoyed going to the barber, the whole experience. I love the environment. It is a guy's place to come and hang out. You can have a cold beer and a shot of good whiskey and relax. Our services are different than what you get in a salon."

Whittler's Barbershop exudes an old-school charm with warm wood paneling and hand carved wooden sculptures alongside antique signs. The walls are lined with rusted and patina-covered carpenter's tools like saws and drawknives, almost entirely old family heirlooms. The focus on woodworking equipment, and the hand carved wooden sculptures, is the source of the shop's name, Whittler's, and harkens to the Craig family's personal history.

Whittler's is a stripped down barbershop focusing on the basics with a mentality of doing a few things and doing them well. Whittler's offers classic men's haircuts and strait razor shaves with premium Proraso shave lather and hot towel service.

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The shop emphasizes the atmosphere and experience, along with the skill of barber Craig, as the shop's main draw for customers.

The back wall of Whittler's features an antique working 1950's Philco freezer that patrons can utilize to keep beverages cold. Craig encourages his patrons to bring their own beer or whiskey to the shop. Patrons can enjoy a drink while they chat with Craig and wait their turn in the barber's chair.

The shop's massive front bay windows overlook the central Fraser Valley and offer spectacular views of the Continental Divide. Craig said he typically faces his customers towards the Divide while he works to allow them to enjoy the view.

Originally hailing from northern Illinois, Craig moved to Durango as a young child and spent his formative years in that community. Durango is also the hometown of Craig's wife, Sandy, who helps run the shop during summer months. Many parents in Grand County will be familiar with Sandy Craig, who works as a preschool teacher at Granby Elementary.

The Craigs have lived in Grand County for roughly five years, moving to Granby from the Frisco area where Craig previously worked as a diesel mechanic. After 20 years spent turning a wrench, Craig decided he was looking for something new and decided to switch careers.

With a passion for barbering, especially the unique atmosphere that exists in barbershops, Craig plunged himself into his new profession. He spent six months attending a barber school in Utah that focused on traditional clipper over comb techniques.

Whittler's officially opened for business June 2 but planned their formal grand opening ceremony for Friday. The event will run from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., though the shop will be open for normal business hours that day. The grand opening will feature a sidewalk barbecue, a mobile photo booth lab and discounts on all services throughout the day. Call Whittler's to find out pricing details.

Whittler's Barbershop, located at 511 South Zerez Street Unit 205, is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Craig accepts both appointments and walk-ins, though he encourages patrons to set appointments by calling the shop at 970-726-3220.

You can also check out the shop's website at http://www.whittlersbarber.com.