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Tony the Barber

A curious combination of needles and scissors, this is not your grandfather’s barbershop.

Gearhead Barbershop and Tattoo on Park Avenue is a one-stop ink and cut shop. Tony Eidem, owner and barber is a father of four children. He’s a graduate of Moler Barber College in Sacramento. But that won’t stop him from holding a straight razor to the throats of his customers.

‘I’m the only guy in town who gives shaves with these anymore,’ He said.

The concept of barbershop and a tattoo parlor is not a new one. In the 1800s tattoos were typically done in back rooms of barbershops.

The shop is immaculate, but a far cry from a typical hair salon. Eidem keeps his cosmetology supplies in red metal craftsman toolboxes. The floors are weathered hard wood. Eidem looks as though he might be an ex-convict with sleeved tattooed arms, until he smiles and welcomes his customers. He worked for UPS for 10 years and then took up the position of barber for the last four years. His wife April describes herself as the woman behind the scenes. She is busy with her children and she works full time as an office manager for UPS. The couple moved to Chico from Reno, Nevada because April is a native of Butte County and they love it here.

Eidem was an employee of the Ye Olde Clippings for two years in the same building. The previous owner, John Mull still cuts hair two days a week in the shop. Eidem was looking for a place to buy and Mull suggested that he look no further than his own booth. The shop has operated under the new ownership for five months.

Vintage signs and license plates are the heart of the décor and charm of the place. The waiting room has tattoo samples on the walls. There is an antique candy machine that still works and a sign on it that reads “Free, please take only one”.

In the spirit of uniting old and new, a Play Station is part of the waiting room entertainment. There’s an old ice box with cold drinks. A line of clothing called Convicted Apparel hangs between the waiting room and the cash register.

Tattoo Artist Julia Carr casually discusses the last book she read by Joan Didion as she prepares her tools for later. Carr is the daughter of Carol Oles, English Professor and advisor for Chico State’s literary magazine, Watershed.

The place looks like a well decorated garage. The staff members are friendly and outgoing. Thus laying to rest the surly stereotype of the tattoo artist.

“I want this to be a place where all people feel welcome when they walk in the door and leave feeling like they’ve made some new friends,” said Eidem.

He admits that it’s challenging to be the boss and make the rules. He said ultimately they are like a family and the experience has been a great one so far. Eidem says that he is ‘providing a variety of services while welcoming a diverse range of clientele to the neighborhood.’

It is a quaint, comfortable building with a non-pretentious feel.