Champ’s Barber School will open in May in downtown Lebanon. It will be located at 37 South 8th Street, the former location of Edible Arrangements and Cedar Book and Card Shop. 

Edward “Champ” Hall said pending occupancy permit and state licensing approvals, he anticipates the barber school will open the first or second week of May. He said the 2,500-square-foot facility will feature both classroom space and a clinic where students provide cuts and services to the public.

“Cutting hair is an art,” Hall said. “A local barber shop is part of the fabric of the community— people come in not just for a haircut, but also to socialize.” 

“I do think having a barber school downtown will be good for the area. New businesses will always help the economic vitality by creating jobs and increasing foot traffic to the area,” said Rodney Royer, chair of Downtown Lebanon’s board. “We are always excited to see people start new businesses and that the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in Lebanon.” 

The nine-month classes will provide the state-required 1,250 hours of training that includes both theory and practical training. Hall said after students complete their training they take the state boards — a two-part test — and after passing the test become a licensed barber. This will be the second Champ’s Barber School; the Lancaster school was established in 2003 in the heart of the city’s downtown area.

Champ’s Lancaster barber school had graduated hundreds of students. (Facebook)

“At that time it was the first barber school in Lancaster city, and I understand the Lebanon school will also be the first for Lebanon city,” Hall said. Champ’s Lancaster barber school has graduated hundreds of students. Hall said a number have moved to other areas across the country.

During his over 40-year career as a barber he’s also owned and operated 10 barber shops and a beauty salon.

“I still love to cut. I also love teaching — it’s a way of giving back and inspiring the next generation of barbers,” Hall said. 

He first began cutting hair at the age of 13.

“I was in junior high and had been going to the same barber for some time. That day I wasn’t pleased with the cut. We had a clippers at home that my mom used to trim the hair on the back of my dad’s neck,” Hall explained. “I grabbed the clippers and tried to fix my hair, and I liked the result. Then I started cutting my friends’ hair.” 

He enrolled in barber school while he was a student at Lancaster’s J.P. McCaskey High School and earned his barber license as a senior in high school.

“My mom picked me up after school and drove me to the train station. I took the train from Lancaster to the barber school in Harrisburg and back home after class. Between high school and barber school, I was in class from morning to night; I would do my homework on the train. When I was in barber school, my friends were at the Boys and Girls Club of Lancaster playing basketball and having fun. But I loved what I was learning.” 

For a few years, Champ’s Barber School in Lancaster was a host site for the state barber licensing exam. Hall said that was a bit ironic, since he failed the state exam licensing three times before he finally passed. But his mom encouraged him not to give up, and the fourth time he passed. 

Like Hall, Lebanon barber Anthony “Tony” Matula is a long-time barber. Born and raised in the City of Lebanon, he’s owned and operated Anthony’s Hair Styling, 110 South 9th Street, for 45 years. He and Hall have met. They first met in the early eighties while Matula owned and operated Anthony’s Court Barber Shop at the corner of Prince and King Streets in Lancaster. (Champs Barber School was and still is located at the same corner of Prince and King). 

“I have always known Champ as one who has always reached out and helped those in the community in order to give them a better life,” Matula said. “As a downtown business owner and former Lebanon City Council member, I believe the opening of Champs Barber School will have a positive impact on the downtown. A community’s strength is built on opportunity. With the opening of Champ’s Barber School, the new City of Lebanon Municipal Building at the former HACC building along with a dynamic city administration under the helm of Mayor Sherry Capello, the stars are beginning to align for a new chapter in the successful revitalization of the city I love.” 

Matula said the Lebanon barber school may also open up a new opportunity for him, since he may be one of the school’s teachers.

“I hope to continue giving back and promoting the City of Lebanon as. ‘A place to grow’,” he explained, adding that he will continue to own and operate his barber shop.

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Rochelle A. Shenk is a writer with over two decades experience. Her work appears in regional business publications and lifestyle magazines as well as area newspapers. She writes about business and municipal sectors as well as arts and entertainment, human interest features, and travel and tourism. Rochelle...