Three years ago in The Grove Shopping Center in Wesley Chapel, Prime Barbershop was born. It was intended by its co-owner and Wesley Chapel resident Edward Velasquez as a meaningful place for family and business to intertwine seamlessly. Ed wanted to create a place where men could enjoy a cut and a shave, and moms could feel safe bringing their sons or even their daughters for their haircuts. His goal was to build long-term relationships.
Ed explains that he aimed to create something different when he started thinking about building a new business for his family.
“We didn’t want to be just another barbershop opening up in the area,” he says. “We wanted a location that stood out, that when people walked in, they’d say, ‘This is really cool-looking.’ We wanted to elevate the barber shop game. We created an atmosphere that’s really inviting. We don’t tolerate loud music or foul language. We hold our barbers to a really high standard. From day one, we were going to turn the industry on its edge and say we can have an upscale barber shop in the area and cater to those clients who want a different experience.”
This vision for excellence has since expanded to a second Prime Barbershop location at the Publix-anchored Livingston Marketplace on County Line Rd. (at Livingston Ave.) in Lutz. A third location will open in the new Downtown Avalon Park Wesley Chapel on S.R. 54 in early 2024.
How It All Got Started
The journey began when Ed observed Omar diligently working as a barber for someone else. Recognizing the talent and passion within the family, an idea took root — why not establish a barber shop where his son-in-law could showcase his skills and become a partner in the venture?
Omar says he fell in love with barbering at a young age and started experimenting by cutting his friends’ hair in high school. After graduation, he attended technical school, received his barber’s license, and has now been a professional barber for seven years.
“I just knew it was something I wanted to do,” Omar says.
Ed explains, “I knew Omar was cutting for another barbershop. It’s always challenging working for another business. You don’t know what the expectations are. I wanted him and my daughter (Kristi) to feel secure and have a place they can call their own without being part of someone else’s dream — and create our own.”
Prime Barbershop offers haircuts, beard trims, shape-ups, hot towel shaves, head shaves and eyebrow trims, with discounts offered on haircuts and beard trims for seniors over 65. These barber shops are not the “boys club” shops of the past. Rather, they welcome everyone: men, children, as well as women seeking short haircuts, which Kristi often provides.
“We love that moms feel comfortable bringing their children to the shop,” Ed says. “That speaks volumes to us because there are many places they don’t want to go or had bad experiences.”
In the very beginning, the Prime Barbershop owners sat down with Mark Gold, the owner/developer of The Grove and learned about Mark’s innovative vision to not only reinvigorate a failing shopping complex but also to add a new concept now called KRATE Container Park at The Grove, which repurposed former shipping containers into a variety of locally-owned small businesses and restaurants.
“It was a different concept I had never heard of, but I knew he was wholeheartedly invested in the place,” ED says. “We saw him come and start cleaning up, painting and landscaping.”
And, even though Ed and Omar didn’t open their Prime Barbershop in the KRATEs, he definitely has benefited from the success of the adjacent container park.
“I was sold on the location and the growth of the area; it was kind of a no-brainer that we had to jump in and get a spot here before someone else did.”
Fast forward three years, and the impact of this decision is evident in the bustling success of the original Prime Barbershop. With its warm ambiance, skilled barbers and commitment to providing superior service, the shop quickly gained a loyal clientele. The Wesley Chapel community embraced the concept of a family-centric barber shop, where personalized attention and a sense of belonging are as much a part of the experience as the perfect haircut.
Ed says, “First and foremost, we really want to thank all of our loyal clientele, which has helped us grow since opening our doors in 2020. We’re now celebrating our third anniversary at our location in The Grove. We’re really thankful to the clients and for building the shop to where it is today and for their continued patronage, as well as to all the barbers who have helped make it happen.”
The glowing Yelp and Google reviews prove that Prime Barbershop’s clientele is so loyal because the service and the staff are top-notch.
Client Brandon Scruton’s glowing 5-star review on Google says, “Steven is a fantastic barber! I have been going to him for over a year now and have never had any issues. He also lines up my beard perfectly. I have started bringing in my one-and-a-half-year-old in for a cut and he is amazing with kids! He takes his time to make my kid feel comfortable and always talks to him throughout the process. If you are looking for a great barber, definitely go to Steven!”
Every Prime Barbershop barber has received similar reviews, so you really can’t go wrong!
Keeping Up With Industry Trends
Prime Barbershop’s licensed barbers create new content and regularly follow social media to keep up with the latest trends.
“We’re seeing that the trends make a loop and come back around,” Omar says. “We’re seeing a lot of kids coming in for a mullet or comb-over. Social media is what keeps us in the loop.”
Ed adds that the biggest trend since the pandemic is the return of beards.
“It’s no longer just getting a haircut, but beard trims,” he says. “Keeping your beard good and healthy. Beard care is probably the biggest trend in the last three years.”
Thanks to the success of the Wesley Chapel location, Ed made sure that the new Prime Barbershop copied the flagship location, integrating the same ethos of a modern barber shop with old-fashioned charm, making sure that each customer feels more like family than just a client.
Ed says he chose the Publix shopping center location because the owner of the plaza did not want a typical salon franchise.
“They saw what we were doing at The Grove and the upscale type of barbershop that we are,” Ed explains.
Looking ahead to 2024, anticipation is building for the grand opening of the third establishment in Avalon Park. With the lessons learned from the first two locations, Ed and Omar envision a space that caters to the community’s grooming needs and becomes a focal point for connection and camaraderie.
“We’ve been interested in Avalon Park since they first started talking about it in 2020,” Ed says. “We’re hoping to be in there by maybe February 2024. ‘Live, Work, Play’ is the theme of Avalon Park’s downtown in Orlando. We knew that if they created the same ‘feel’ in Wesley Chapel, that it would be very successful and a hub where people will come to do all of that.”
As the Wesley Chapel shop’s three-year milestone is celebrated, it’s not just a celebration of a successful business venture but a testament to the power of family bonds and entrepreneurial spirit. The journey from a single barber shop in Wesley Chapel to a triad of establishments in three different areas exemplifies Ed and Omar’s commitment to quality, service, and the enduring strength that comes from blending together family and business.
“We’re always looking to hire the best of the best,” Ed says. “We’ve created a culture that allows a very successful barber to come in and continue his process or for someone without as much experience to build up a good clientele as long as they are willing to put in the work and do what needs to be done.”
In a world often dominated by impersonal experiences, the Prime Barbershops stand out as beacons of community, illustrating that a haircut can be more than just a trim — it can be an opportunity to forge connections, build relationships and create an enduring legacy.
Ed says, “In any of our shops, you will be greeted the same. Everyone will be in uniform. The atmosphere is the same. Our shops have a vintage look to them. They are warm and inviting. We’ve created a culture that no matter which location you go to, it’s going to feel like it’s home.”
When not busy running their shops, you will find the owners enjoying their downtime with their families: in Wesley Chapel, Ed and Melinda, his wife of 32 years, their two children and three grandchildren, and Omar in Dade City with his wife Kristi, and their two children.
The original Prime Barbershop is located at 6027 Wesley Grove Blvd., Unit 206. The Lutz location is at 2747 E. County Line Rd. For more info, visit PrimeBarbersWC.com.