Beer and a Haircut—Two Bits

by Jun 14, 2024Beauty & Fitness, Pub Scout

The PubScout scores a flat-top and a beer at The Exchange Barbershop and Lounge in Downtown Wilmington.

I don’t expect any Millennials, Gen Z-ers, Gen Y-ers or Gen X-ers to have the faintest idea of how much money two bits is.

We Geezers know, however. It’s 25 cents — just a quarter. And the title above comes from an old, old minstrel song that ends with “Shave and a Haircut—two bits.” Wikipedia will provide an interesting history of the term, but the well-known seven-note musical grouping is probably somebody’s ring tone or car horn today.

I just borrowed it and modified it to share the story of a place in Wilmington where you actually can get a beer or a cocktail with a shave and a haircut — although it will cost more than two bits.

The experience is worth the extra cost, though, and a visit to The Exchange Barbershop and Lounge on Grace Street will provide it — and more. It’s also a full-service spa and lounge, and one of two in North Carolina owned by Sarah McAllister. The other is in Apex, North Carolina, and the ILM spot is its newest shop.

Wilmington NC Exchange Barber

According to the website: “At The Exchange Barbershop & Lounge, we pride ourselves on providing a memorable and unique experience in all aspects of hospitality. With a flair of Southern charm while stepping back in time, we offer the feel of an old-time barbershop that brought together a community to create great friends and conversation. From our classic haircuts to our hand-crafted cocktails and broad whiskey collections, we strive to create a welcoming, laid-back, yet upscale masculine retreat in a historic, speak-easy inspired space, right in the heart of Downtown.”

I don’t usually imbibe while my regular barber is cutting my hair, and any talking is usually confined to telling him what I want, and maybe a pleasantry or two about the weather or state of the union. But when I learned from my beer-loving friend Brittany about this place and what it offers, I vowed to visit.

The Wilmington shop is cavernous, airy and well-lit, so the speakeasy effect is somewhat muted. But I needed a haircut (the beer was icing on the cake), so the missus, Father Dave and I walked in. To be honest, I’m not prone to pampering (except my grandchildren) or getting pampered. And I seriously doubted whether any barber (all females during this visit) even knew how to give me my signature flat-top.

Exchange Barber Shop

But the receptionist assured me they could do it, and we moved to the bar to order some libations. On the way, we met Oscar, a “Chihweenie” mix between a chihuahua and a Weiner, and a friendly little guy. Mel was his owner, and, as it happened, was not only our bartender, but also my barber. After drinks were delivered, she walked me over to her chair.

“Are you sure you can do a good flat-top for me?” I asked her.

“Sure can,” she replied.

And damned if she didn’t. Using hot towels, lather and her straight razor, she deftly and expertly shaved the sides just as I requested and finished the rest with her clippers, a careful eye and a steady hand.

More importantly, we had an excellent conversation wherein she shared much about her life, her goals and her experiences. She was an exceptional conversationalist, and, because of that, she prompted me to share some of my life adventures with her.

We had only known each other for maybe 20 minutes, but we both got the feeling that we had found a new friend. She was an absolute master of her craft and a delight to get to know.

Wilmington NC Exchange Barber Shop

And she gave me one of the best flat-tops I’d ever had. That I’d had it done while sipping on a Bill’s Honey Drip made it even better.

Mel assured me that they had a male barber there who was off on that day. I cannot attest that all the other barbers would have had Mel’s skill or her personality. But if they do, make it your business to stop by The Exchange Barbershop and Lounge to check it out. The place even offers nightly entertainment on the weekends.

For sure, pampering while imbibing will cost more than a regular haircut somewhere else.

But if Mel or someone like her does your pampering, it’s worth it.

Want to go?
The Exchange Barbershop and Lounge
104 Grace Street, Wilmington
(910) 399-1295
The Exchange Barbershop & Lounge – Wilmington | Cocktail Bar Experience

Request a copy today!