by Bảo Hoa
HCM CITY — There is nothing unusual about barbershops, but in HCM City there is a barbershop that moves.
Fitted to the back of a truck, the tiny hair salon has enough space for two barbers and two customers at the same time.
Each day it parks up at a different location in the city, offering haircuts to passers-by without charging them.
A barbershop on the back of a truck which offers haircuts on the street. It belongs to Bardy BarberShop, a barber chain in HCM City. VNS Photos Bảo Hoa
The idea for the mobile barbershop came to Nguyễn Thị Hằng, the owner, as she was looking for a better way of helping low-income people look presentable.
“We have done charity haircuts before, but we did it on the street so it wasn’t very clean,” Hằng said.
“I thought we should do it in a truck so we wouldn’t have to sweep the hair up off the street at the end of each day, because it takes ages.
“So I had this truck made to better serve people, and it’s also better for the environment.”
Customers can get a full makeover service from getting their hair cut and styled to having a wet shave, but it’s up to them how much they want to spend.
Inside the truck there is enough space for two barbers and two customers.
“We don’t charge people, we let them decide how much they want to pay,” Hằng said. “People with low incomes don’t have to pay, and those who are better off can donate any amount of money they like.
“We put the money into a donation box, and when we hear about someone in a difficult situation that we can verify, we give the money to them.
“For example, I will give the money we earn in a week to a poor patient. And for those who are struggling even more and need more money, we will give them what we earn in two weeks or a month.”
For the past week this barber truck has been moving around HCM City, but its journey doesn’t stop there.
“Our objective is to get ‘10,000 smiles’, which means we will travel across the country to get 10,000 customers,” Hằng added.
“When our journey comes to an end, after five months or a year, we will calculate the costs and see how much money we have left.
“If we still have money remaining, we will donate it to poor patients. If the patients need more money than we have, our company will make up the deficit.”
A wet shave service is also on offer.
Although it is hard to locate and can only be contacted via a mobile number, the shop is getting all the attention it needs, mostly from gentlemen.
Võ Văn Đoàn from District 12 said: “This shop is pretty cool and unusual. Passers-by who don’t really like walking into hair salons can get a haircut right here. It’s cool.”
Trần Thanh Liêm, a motorbike taxi driver from Phú Nhuận District, said: “With my income, I can afford a haircut. Here I don’t really have to pay, but from the bottom of my heart I want to contribute something.
“The owners want to help people, and I also want to help in my own way. People who don't earn a lot need haircuts too. It’s a basic need.”
A donation box is placed in a corner of the truck so customers can donate any amount of money they like. All proceeds from the charity will be used to cover medical expenses for poor patients across the country
The shop has a website set up so people in difficult situations or those that know of such people can reach out and ask for help.
“We have a website and we have put our phone number up there,” said Nguyễn Thanh Điền, the site’s admin. “People who need help can call us on that number, and I will come to meet them and provide support if needed.”
“I have received a message from a group that cooks food for poor people in Bình Thuận Province,” he added. “They asked us to go there.
“I will make arrangements so when our truck arrives there we will be able to meet them.
“I think this is a great job. I can help people with it, and that makes me happy”. — VNS