As of Monday, August 6, 2018
It’s unusual to find exes that get along well, but getting along is what has allowed Alex Garcia and Angelica Rojas to keep Alex’s Barber Shop going since they opened it six years ago.
The exes don’t just get along. They work together.
It was Rojas who introduced Garcia to hair-cutting many years ago in Los Angeles. She was a licensed barber when they met, and she encouraged him to get a license. He finally did that after moving to Sunnyside 12 years ago.
“Making a living was tough in Mexico and safety and security were tough in Los Angeles,” Garcia said. “It’s so calm here. Our kids happily go to school.”
“We work together for the sake of our five children,” Garcia added. “This way neither of us can complain about what the other one is doing wrong.”
Garcia and Rojas started looking for place to build their own business shortly after arriving here. They found a stinky, dusty, dirty warehouse on the tracks at 600 Railroad Ave., where Railroad intersects with South Sixth Street. They are buying half the building together.
“It was really dirty in here,” Garcia said. “It was just a smelly old warehouse.”
Garcia said he, Rojas and other family members went to work cleaning the building, introducing fresh air, painting it decoratively and bringing in used barber chairs.
“We didn’t have much money,” Garcia said. “We did what we could do, what we had to do.”
The shop is about 3,000 square feet of space. There is a tile floor, the walls were painted white, and there are red accents in strategic places.
The best news is that the ugly warehouse smell is gone. Garcia opens a door to the other 3,000 feet he purchased and a whiff of the old ugly smell comes in. Then he closes it quickly.
“We like what we have now,” Garcia said. “But we’re not satisfied. We’re going to keep improving as we go, little by little.”
Garcia said he will eventually do “something” with the additional 3,000 feet, but he has no idea what it will be. It will probably be something involving family.
The day Alex’s opened, there were 7-8 barbers, all family. There was a pretty good turnout of customers. There are only four barbers now — Garcia, Rojas, Garcia’s brother Ernesto and his niece Marianela Arcos.
The two Garcias and Arcos studied at the Sakes International Barber School in Yakima. With the four-person team, Alex’s is open seven days a week. It operates from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Saturday hours are 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and on Sundays it is open from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Garcia puts in the longest week, taking only Sundays off. Rojas works the five weekdays, Arcos works Thursday through Saturday, and Ernesto Garcia works 5-6 days, depending on the week.
“Things have been a little slow lately, but all of us are paying our bills,” Garcia said. “And it’s going to get better, little by little. I still love to cut hair, and this is where I’m going to cut it.”