As “Chocolate City” turns into a more colorful vanilla swirl, black-owned businesses across the city are struggling to stay open. But for Anthony Quildon, his small, three-person barbershop has remained both a community pillar and a lucrative business since its opening in 1997. Quildon, known to most as Stoney, takes pride in owning what he calls a “country club for black people.” For Stoney, black barbershops have traditionally been a place for men to discuss the current issues of the day while getting a clean shape-up.
“Successful black men will drive miles into the city to visit their black barbers,” he says. With the help of his two employees, Juan Stewart and Connie Boggerr, Stoney says that he strives to facilitate “clean debates, not power debates.”
At 49, Stoney has been cutting hair in D.C. for 25 years. Last October, Cuttin’ Up moved from its original home at 1206 9th St. NW to its current spot on the north side of the convention center. Although the classic black barbershop aesthetic was left behind, the shop’s hospitality, as well as its most interesting patron, has not. Ask anyone who goes to Stoney’s about “Paco,” and they will undoubtedly smile.
Paco, a formerly homeless Vietnam War veteran and, according to Stoney, a “bonafide alcoholic,” is a staple at Cuttin’ Up. “He shows up every day, on time, before the barbers,” Stoney says. Paco can be seen sweeping the shop’s floors, running to the corner store for the barbers, and even paying their bills for them. The occasional joke will roll off of Paco’s tongue as he gleefully speaks to every customer in the shop. Stoney says that the shop’s success is partially owed to the homeless population to whom he once provided free haircuts on Sundays.
“They did a lot for me,” he says. “They used to spread the word about the shop by passing out flyers to cars and people around the city.” This, in addition to the shop being the only black barbershop in the area, has allowed Stoney to keep it open despite neighborhood changes. Well aware of the gentrification that has drastically altered the neighborhood, Stoney is quick to note that his business has experienced virtually no effects. With his new location, Stoney anticipates many more years of business serving his older, regular customers as well as the new young professionals who appreciate a good cut and a place to discuss any and everything on their mind.