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Sheffield barbershop launches Pay What You Want Wednesday campaign

Apothecary 87, with barbershops in Sheffield and Doncaster, aims to help with the cost-of-living crisis by offering pay-as-you-feel haircuts.

Barbers at Apothecary 87

Apothecary 87 launched in 2013, initially creating a beard oil, before adding shave oils and moustache wax (supporting Movember) to the mix. Then came barbershops, first in Doncaster then a second in Sheffield.

Recognising that the last few years have been incredibly tough for many, the company has now introduced their Pay What You Want Wednesday campaign. I asked them about it:

What made Apothecary 87 start the 'Pay What You Want Wednesday' campaign?

We care massively about our community. We've seen those closest to us go through all kinds of struggles these past couple of years with lockdown, Covid, Brexit, and now with the cost-of-living crisis and inflation skyrocketing, it's been so tough for so many. We wanted to do something that we feel will really help the people in our community who need it the most.

Self care shouldn't be a luxury that only few can afford, everyone is entitled to a hair cut and as we've seen recently, many don't have access to such a simple service that we sometimes take for granted, and this just doesn't sit right with us.

Self care is a right that we should all have. We've seen the impact a fresh hair cut can make to someone. It can make the world of difference to your mentality, making you feel happy, fresh and all round more positive. Pretty much all barbers enjoy seeing a client sit in the chair and leave looking confident and happier, it's a part of the job that's really fulfilling, so being able to help people feel good makes us feel pretty good too.

Glass door at Apothecary 87

How have people reacted to the idea?

It has definitely raised a few eyebrows and had a lot of people questioning whether we've gone mad, but we've never been more sure that this is the right thing to do. Since we started the campaign we've seen a huge amount of support from the local community, which has just been amazing to see. Everyone has been massively on board with the idea!

We've had clients tell us they wouldn't have been able to get a hair cut if we hadn't started this campaign. We've had clients who have told us that it's helped them to get a trim when they've been struggling, so already it's having a hugely positive impact on our community.

Our barbers were on board from the very beginning and were so excited to get started on helping the people who needed it the most so it's been great to have the support from all sides so we can really get to work on making sure this campaign is a success.

With a campaign like this, people can pay more than you would normally charge, as well as pay less - or even nothing. Do you find that people are paying at both ends of that spectrum?

So far we haven't had a client that's paid nothing, even though it's totally an option. We've had clients pay what we normally charge because they've felt they received a great service, worthy of full payment and we've had people pay over the amount we normally charge because they want to do what they can to support what we're doing and our business, which has been really great to see and we appreciate it massively!

We've also had people pay less than what we charge, which is the whole reason we wanted to start the campaign. Self care is a necessity in this day and age and looking after yourself shouldn't break the bank, so when we say you can pay what you want, you really can pay whatever you want!

If somebody is struggling financially and wants to take you up on the offer but is embarrassed at only offering a small amount, how would you reassure them?

We'd never want anyone who's making the most of this offer to feel embarrassed by it. When our clients book in for the Pay What You Want service, our barbers clarify that they can pay whatever they want at the end of the hair cut, even if it's nothing, to reassure them it's okay to do that. It's what the offer is there for. They then have the option to pay as little or as much as they like by either telling our barbers or punching it in themselves on the till, completely without judgement, no questions asked.

It's at the centre of our marketing - we really don't care! Pay £0, pay £100, it is completely up to you and if that means you get to walk away with a snazzy, free hair cut then hey! You've made good use of the offer.

Nobody should feel embarrassed about paying a small amount and we're not going to make anyone feel embarrassed either, we're here to help people feel good about themselves! Do good, feel good, look good.

What's next for Apothecary 87?

We've got a few things in the works at the minute from some cool new product launches to expanding the barbershop side of our business, so a lot of different projects happening but we don't want to spill the beans too much, we'll leave some to the imagination.

In terms of the Pay What You Want offer, our main focus at the minute is making sure it's as successful as possible and it's a big part of what we're doing now. Aside from the obvious of wanting to do something good, we want to see tangible impact. For us, this will mean getting plenty of people to come in, make the most of the offer and start to create meaningful relationships with the people in our communities. So the more people that use this offer, the more successful we are.

Based on the response we've had already, this offer will be sticking around for a while which is very exciting and hopefully more and more people who might be struggling will be able to take advantage of it.

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