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Suds and a shave: new barbershop working toward liquor licence

'I said, if we’re going to do this, I want to have fun everyday,' said one of the founders of Mountain Men's barbershop, one of Collingwood's newest businesses
Heidi Forster and Laura Gambee celebrate

Mountain Men’s is determined to become more than just a barbershop.

Owned and operated by Laura Gambee and Heidi Forster, Collingwood’s newest barber shop was opened with the intention of creating a space where both men and women could let their hair down.

“I said, if we’re going to do this, I want to have fun everyday,” Forster said.

The idea came to the two women while they were working together at another shop.

“We saw how busy Collingwood was and how much it continued to grow,” said Foster. They thought, “let’s make a big shop, let’s just go for it.”

The women started talking business back in January, and in April they got the keys to their current space.

While the pandemic temporarily halted their plans, the women weren’t deterred for more than a minute.

“Heidi is the positive one,” laughed Gambee.

“I just kept thinking, we can do this. Things will get better and it will all be worth it,” said Forster. “We know how busy this town is, and everybody will need their hair cut.”

And on Aug. 20, their dream came true.

With a team of two barbers and four stylists, themselves included, Gambee and Forster officially opened the doors to the public.

“We work well together. We had a vision, and we seem to have the same vision which is great,” said Forster.

At the previous shop they worked at, Gambee said the stylists were constantly “bumping butts” and had to dance around each other while working. With this shop, both women were already set on having more space, so COVID restrictions weren’t an issue. The shop opened with six barber stations, all set six feet and two inches apart.

The rest of the sun-filled, open-concept shop features antique decor — including a set of old skis and snowshoes and a relative’s first-ever straight razor — above a floating, rustic-wood bar that circles the whole shop.

“We aren’t designers, but we like how it turned out,” said Gambee. “We feed off the excitement that people have when they come in, and when our old clients find us.”

This past Saturday, they hosted an official grand opening.

The Strange Potatoes played a live performance while people mingled outside, sampling local beer from Collingwood Brewery and Creemore Springs and enjoying pizza from Mountain Men’s new neighbour, Pizza Nova.

“Collingwood is so great,” smiled Gambee.

The Collingwood community is exactly what inspired the local ladies in the first place. From the shop’s name to the titles of all their treatments — named after different runs at Blue Mountain — both Gambee and Forster are inspired by this area every day.

“We are just two girls with a dream. We aren’t a franchise so we don’t have any rules. We love talking to people and playing music all day,” said Gambee.

“And just have fun with it,” added Forster.

Barbershop services include haircuts, hair colours, beard tinting, beard trims, shaves, brows and facials, and full packages are even offered for the men who want to fully treat themselves.

“It’s like a spa for men,” said Forster.

Except the barbershop isn't just for men.

“For the ladies in your life, we have not forgotten about them, we also offer services for them as well from colours, foils and new styles to suit their lifestyle,” said Gambee.

Ultimately, Forster and Gambee’s goal is to be much more than just a basic barbershop.

“We want to be a destination for people coming to Collingwood,” said Forster.

The ladies have applied for a full liquor license and have reached out to collaborate with local breweries and cideries and carry their products.

“We picture groomsmen booking the space to get shaved and pampered, all while enjoying beer and food,” said Gambee. “Or bachelor parties booking us for the afternoon when they come up for the weekend."

In the meantime, the local ladies are just loving taking it day by day, one trim at a time.


Maddie Johnson

About the Author: Maddie Johnson

Maddie Johnson is an early career journalist working in financial, small business, adventure and lifestyle reporting. She studied Journalism at the University of King's College, and worked in Halifax, Malta and Costa Rica before settling in Collingwood
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