Maddy Maccaferri put a lot of thought into opening a barber shop in Edgartown. She searched for a location, secured all the proper licenses and permits, hammered out a marketing strategy, and planned how to balance a long work week with her responsibilities as a mother and wife. She put a lot of thought into what to name the new venture, too.
She came up with Mac’s Barber Shop.
“I wanted something short, easy to remember,” she said. Using the first three letters of her name was in part a tribute to her family, and in part a nod to the future. “If anyone in my family wants to carry it on, the name is there.”
As a marketing strategy, it has worked. On June 20, Ms. Maccaferri marked her first year in business. Growth in boy’s regulars, a little off the top, and military buzz cuts has been steady.
But the shop’s name also had a bit of an unintended consequence. The news about the new barber shop at the Triangle, in the same building as Edgartown Pizza, got around quickly. Word of mouth referrals have brought a lot of new customers through the door.
But some of them were expecting a guy named Mac, not a diminutive no-nonsense mom, wielding the comb and scissors.
“Everyone wants to know, where’s Mac, where’s the old man,” Ms. Maccaferri said. “I say, ‘She’s right here.’”
Ms. Maccaferri is the mother of three young children. She and her husband, Scott, who is a Coast Guard Machinery Technician First Class at Station Menemsha, made Martha’s Vineyard their permanent home three years ago, after twenty years hopping from deployment to deployment. They live in Vineyard Haven, raising three young children.
Running a business open six days a week, eight hours a day, is no small feat, on top of a home renovation and caring for a family. She said juggling work and home life is a matter of optimism and opportunism.
“You just gotta do it. This is what we do,” Ms. Maccaferri said. “Without my husband putting in way more time than I expected, it wouldn’t be possible. My husband has to give 110 percent, I have to give 110 percent; my mother-in-law, friends, family, babysitters, all help.”
Though this is her first business venture, Ms. Maccaferri has enjoyed early success. She saw a niche to fill in Edgartown, where there were plenty of high end salons, but no basic barber shop. After extensive planning, she signed a long-term lease and opened her doors.
“I try to keep my overhead low, and keep the shop basic, the service basic, to keep the prices low, so people can afford it,” Ms. Maccaferri said. “I started small and steadily grew. From what people are telling me, there was a need for it.”
A haircut is $15, discounted to $13 for seniors. Police officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and anyone in the active military also get the discount price, which works out well for everybody, because those crisp military cuts generate a lot of return visits.
Ms. Maccaferri is also conscious of making the shop a friendly, comfortable place. There is Island art work on the walls, and her husband’s Island made fishing lures are for sale in the corner. There are rocking chairs on the porch, and recently installed air conditioning helps. Part of her business plan was paying attention to the little details.
“I’m trying to learn everybody’s name, so when they come in, I can greet them by their first name, so they’ll feel comfortable,” she said. “I’m learning different languages, different words for haircut,” Ms. Maccaferri.
There have been a few challenges, like the time she was stranded because in the jumble of after-school activities, work schedules, and the general summer rush, her family forgot to pick her up after work. She hopped the bus and got home in time for supper. But for the most part, she says, the challenges are manageable, and not all that unexpected.
“I think how supportive the Island people are,” she said when asked what surprised her about her first year in business.
“I knew they would be, I just didn’t realize how much, and they’ve been great, coming in offering words of support, just really trying to pick me up on days when they can tell I’m tired.”
Even the ones looking for an old guy named Mac.