Boone Village Barber Shop Still Cutting it After Three Decades
Writer / Julie Yates
Photographer / Eli Beaverson
A visit to Boone Village Barber Shop every two weeks or so has been a tradition for many Zionsville dads and sons for decades. Owner Mike Nell often gives haircuts to third-generation family members. Women and girls are also welcome, but what the shop truly specializes in is a good, basic haircut. Located in the Boone Village Shopping Center, it’s situated in the perfect spot for running other errands as well.
“I was lost coming out of high school – I had no idea of what kind of work I wanted to do,” Nell says. “One day while getting my hair cut, I started talking to my barber about his job. It sounded like something I would be interested in doing. I went to the now-closed National Barber School in Indianapolis. I first started working in Greenfield. Then in 1978 there was a job opening here, and here I am.”
Nell has lived in Zionsville since taking that job, and bought a house here in 1980.
“All my kids went through the Zionsville schools,” he says. “I’ve continued to work here all these years except for 1987 to 1989, when a friend and I had a shop in downtown Zionsville. In 1989 I became owner of Boone Village Barber Shop.”
Nell has seen Zionsville transform through the years, but COVID necessitated a change in how his shop operates today. Now, instead of just popping in he recommends calling for an appointment first. Extra time is needed between appointments for sanitizing between haircuts and making sure there isn’t a crowd of people waiting.
“When we opened up after the pandemic shutdown, it was a whole new world,” Nell says. “A haircut still takes about 20 minutes and costs $18, but now our busiest day is every day. Lots of people work from home now and it’s caused our business to change. If someone calls and we have an opening, we try to get them in.”
He says style preferences have shifted since last year.
“The pandemic made styles go full circle,” Nell says. “In the late 1990s to early 2000s, guys liked to keep their hair really short, but now teenagers like it longer than the past 20 or 30 years. During COVID people let their hair grow and they liked it longer.”
Boone Village Barber Shop was closed for seven weeks during business shutdowns last year. Expecting to be closed for only a couple of weeks, Nell had already gathered the construction material he needed for a modest makeover of the shop. When customers came back in the spring of 2020, the business had a fresh look.
“I plan on working for three more years and then I’m not sure of what will happen,” Nell says. “My wife Tina and I have lots of grandchildren living in Lebanon, Plainfield and Noblesville. I’d like to thank the Zionsville community for their support over the years.”