Boulanger’s Barberie reopens, celebrates one year of paying it forward

NOW: Boulanger’s Barberie reopens, celebrates one year of paying it forward

SOUTH BEND, Ind.— A South Bend barbershop that reopened Tuesday after being closed for seven weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic has a couple of milestones to celebrate in 2020.

“This summer, July 1, is our 60th birthday,” said Boulanger’s Barberie owner Michelle Schmidt. 

The other milestone is a bit different and is all thanks to one customer’s kindness for strangers.

In May of 2019, a 92-year-old customer at Boulanger’s decided to pay for the next customer’s haircut, in a simple effort to bring a smile to a stranger’s face.

At the time, Schmidt said she was shocked because he was a new client. The shop’s owner said she’d seen this type of bigheartedness with cups of coffee but never a haircut. 

“They didn’t know us. To do that, it was great. It really touched me,” Schmidt said at the time. 

Customers continued the act of kindness, paying for each other’s haircuts and even a little extra.

“The generosity of customers has cushioned it along the way and to date, we’ve given away 10 haircuts,” Schmidt said.

The barbershop on East Jefferson Boulevard is now celebrating over a year of paying it forward. Thanks to its customers, hairstylists have been able to give free haircuts to people who have fallen on hard times. 

“We actually had a gentleman who was job interviewing. We had someone who was unemployed,” Schmidt said. “If you need it, ask for it, I think it’s a positive thing, a kind gesture was made.”

Boulanger’s Barberie reopened Tuesday under guidance from Governor Eric Holcomb’s five stage plan to restart the economy and have added precautions to keep both employees and customers safe.

“Masks are required. We take one off the ear, move it around, they might have to hold it in front of their face. We’re all just trying to be safe and smart right now,” Schmidt said.

One customer in the shop on Tuesday drove all the way from Chicago to get a haircut. Others were getting their first haircuts in over two months.

“A lot of long hair,” Schmidt said. “But we’re working on that now. We’ve got a lot of overdue haircuts.”

Boulanger’s is now taking customers by appointment only. Both employees and customers are required to wear face coverings over the nose and mouth during services at the shop. 

“It’s been a long seven weeks. A lot of customers calling us, messaging us. We’re definitely feeling missed and loved,” Schmidt said. “It’s nice to be back.”

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