Handy With the Shears
36 Barber Lounge Opens in Avon
Writer / Jamie Hergott Photography Provided
Zach Short has wanted to be a barber since he was a little kid. He took a detour or two over the years, but now he owns a brand-new, and usually booked, business called 36 Barber Lounge in Avon.
“I have the opportunity to do what I love,” Short says. “I sink everything into it.”
36 Barber Lounge sits on U.S. Highway 36 on the south side of the road, nestled next to La Hacienda and Carl’s Donuts. The lounge has a rustic, industrial feel to it, with a living room-type space in the waiting area with oversized couches and a TV. Down the hall there’s a game room, complete with shuffleboard, an Xbox and other games.
“You have to be at work anyways,” Short says. “I want to make it comfortable and worthwhile.”
Short likes having a space for the community to come not just for a haircut, but for a human connection. Growing up in Beech Grove, Short visited a certain barber who knew many people in the community.
“I saw how people depended on him for haircuts, and he was there for me many times growing up,” Short says. “By the time I was 12 or 13 years old, I had my mind made up to be a barber.”
It seems to run in the family, as Short’s mother is in the hair industry. She owns a salon on the south side. His wife Megan, whom he lovingly calls his “biggest fan,” is also passionate about her craft, and works at his mother’s salon.
Then there’s Short’s son, who is four and a half months away from being done with barber school, and plans to come to Avon to work with his dad once he graduates.
“It’s more than a haircut,” Short says. “It’s people. When I build a barber relationship, people know a lot about me, and I know a lot about people.”
It’s been a long time coming, and Short doesn’t take his story for granted. He said he made bad decisions as a young man and has found many rock-bottoms throughout his life.
“I battled addiction for years, but it’s been years since I picked up,” he says. “It’s possible to overcome those things and get that monkey off your back. The more love you sink into people, the more love they’ll sink into you.”
Short brings this empathy to his job daily. As a barber, he hears of many people’s joys, sorrows, stories of financial struggles, lost jobs, relationship tensions, and all the details in between. He finds joy in offering a listening ear or advice to anyone who needs it. He gives credit to the barber he had growing up, who invested in him.
“When I was lacking direction, he would take it upon himself to help me out,” Short says. “He came to watch me wrestle, and he gave me advice. That’s why I try and turn around and do the same thing for others. If you’re missing a little bit of family and that’s not where you’re getting love, family isn’t always blood.”
Short has a warm affinity for Avon. He moved here five years ago to work at another local barber shop. Over the years he built relationships with families in the area at that location, and he loves opportunities to support others when he can.
“I went to Beech Grove to watch the Avon Wrestling Club wrestle recently,” Short says. “At first I felt a little strange being there with no kids, but the community knew exactly who I was and why I was there.”
During those five years, Short found that his work environment was slowly, as he puts it, “sucking the wind out of my sails.” To stir up his passion again, he attempted to move his family to St. Augustine, Florida, 18 months ago. His ultimate dream had always been to cut hair on the ocean.
“My wife and I had everything squared away,” Short says.
Due to some unforeseen family issues, they were forced to stay in Indiana. He was disappointed, but Short’s faith in a bigger picture gives him peace.
“I promised myself if we were kept here for some reason, then God had other plans for me,” Short says.
They did take a two-week vacation to Florida, during which time he prayed intently regarding what to do next.
Clarity came on the beach. He decided it was best to stay in Indiana anyway, so his son could finish school. He also began to realize that many of his issues at the barber shop where he worked stemmed from having bigger dreams.
After discussions with close friends and prayer, Short made a decision and quit his job at the local barber shop upon his return from Florida. He opened 36 Barber Lounge around Thanksgiving in 2020.
“This community is big enough for two barbers,” Short says. “I really wanted something that represented me.”
Even though 36 Barber Lounge hasn’t been open long, one of the first things Short did was reach out to Family Promise to see if he could help. He has worked with them in the past, offering free haircuts to homeless men, women and children.
One of the first things he did in his lounge was set up a Giving Tree for Christmas to benefit Family Promise families. He took on four families to start, putting tags on the tree for different items each family needed. He was blown away by the support the community showed – they took care of not only every single tag, but also made additional donations like underwear, socks and gift cards for local grocery stores.
“In three days, we filled up everything those families wanted,” Short says. “That’s one of the things I love most about this. It gives me a platform to help someone else in some way.”
To continue the trend of hospitality and generosity, Short offers discounts to police officers, firefighters, military members and health care workers.
“We’re going to be intertwined with the community,” Short says. “I never could have built this without them. Two families in the community came and helped me build this every night. I left the last shop on October 15, 2020, and opened these doors November 23. My book was full from day one. It’s been a blessing.”
It’s been a big change, Short admits, but he’s more than willing to accept the challenge of adjusting to a new routine. He’s determined to continue his passion, emphasizing that he’s more than just someone who cuts hair.
“There’s a difference between a good haircutter and a good barber,” Short says. “Barbers will build relationships with you and your family, and stay disciplined and consistent in their craft.”
He prides himself on always putting the client first. In doing so, he feels he’s gained a lot from his career, often learning from his customers as they talk during their haircut.
Even though he hasn’t been open long, Short has big plans for the lounge. His goal is to have five barbers cutting hair at all times by April, and he’s very particular about hiring.
“I only put people behind the chair who are passionate about the art and craft of barbering,” Short says.
He also plans to introduce punch cards soon, offering the tenth haircut free once someone purchases nine. Above all, he’s willing to do whatever it takes to make his business an integral part of Avon, sharing his passion with the community. His love for his craft and the community fills him with appreciation.
“If you can just be yourself and put God first in your life, and if you can wake up every day with discipline and consistency over time, things will get better,” Short says. “You’ll become proud of yourself. Stay humble, and more than anything, have hope.”
36 Barber Lounge is located at 7485 East U.S. Highway 36, Suite D in Avon. For more info, call 317-268-4542 or visit 36barberlounge.com.