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When Steve Burris closed his Mount Vernon barber shop in January, he said he wished the business would continue under a different owner.
It appears Burris will end up getting his wish.
“They say when one door closes, another opens. When I found out Steve had retired, I knew that my door was opening,” said Todd Burnett, the space’s new occupant.
Burnett, 48, is a Mount Vernon native who resides in Evansville and serves as a barber instructor on the city’s west side. But with years of experience in the industry, Burnett plans to build a thriving business on the site’s historic foundation.
“Steve left an incredible legacy of barbering in Mount Vernon,” Burnett said. “But sometimes things have to change a little in order to progress.”
The new barber is expanding the shop’s list of services. Burnett is licensed in both cosmetology and barbering, but said he plans to keep the operation a true barber shop and focus on male grooming. His skill set has allowed him to be versatile, and Burnett said he prides himself on staying informed regarding modern male haircut trends, as well as providing traditional, affordable cuts.
“I can do the more trendy styles, and I can do buzz cuts,” he said. “And pretty much everything in between.”
He is also bringing back straight razor shaves, beard trims and other facial grooming services.
“The men in Mount Vernon will have some of the best looking beards around if I can help it,” Burnett said with a laugh.
One of his major goals is to retain and attract clientele of all ages. The barber plans to reach out to local schools and engage younger generations on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. As a freelance photographer, Burnett said he hopes that posting images of his work will also draw in new customers.
Restoring a barber in Posey County was a major decision for Burnett and his wife, Kristina. He had discussed opening an operation in Evansville, but real estate and start-up costs made it impractical. Things have moved quickly since Burnett learned of Burris’s retirement, but the couple has never doubted the decision.
“Sometimes windows of opportunity in life that aren’t open very long appear, and you have to jump on them,” he said. This is a big step for us, but I feel like it is well worth it.”
The Burnetts have been working hard to get the shop ready for its expected March 21 grand opening. They recently installed hardwood floors and an antique church pew that belonged to Burnett’s grandmother that will serve as seating for waiting customers. Burris’ two barbershop chairs will remain, but Burnett said that for the time being, he will be the facility’s only barber.
The couple is finishing their renovations as the City of Mount Vernon prepares for a renovation of its own. A $4 million project on Main Street is set to begin next March, and Burnett said he is excited to be right in the center of it.
“The city has changed a lot over the years, and I’m excited to help play a part in this latest effort to make Mount Vernon an even better, stronger community than it already is,” he said.
As they put the finishing touches on The Fox, Burnett is looking forward to one new addition in particular.
“We will be installing a new barber’s pole shortly,” Burnett said, smiling. “Oh, it will look amazing right outside there. I can’t wait.”
A bright new barber pole spiraling its iconic colors at the corner of Main Street – it is an image that embodies all the charm and potential of small town Americana.
For Burnett, it is also the image of a dream coming true.