DOWNTOWN — Marcus Rodriquez has made a name for himself as a barber for all types of hair, a rarity in the Loop’s barber shops and hair salons, where many stylists are specialists.
Rodriquez's career path was an unconventional one.
He earned his barber’s license while serving five and a half years at Westville Correctional Facility and Putnamville Correctional Facility in Indiana for drug-related charges.
“You weren't allowed to pick and choose your barbers in there, so [your client was] whoever’s next,” he said. “And you had to do a good job, because they might be waiting for you when you're done.”
Rodriguez says he has hundreds of regular customers at Alexandria Hair Design at 70 East Lake St., which has its entrance off the main thoroughfare, tucked away on Garland Court.
Rodriquez joined Alexandria last August, after moving to the Loop from Merrillville, Ind., where he’d had his own shop for eight years. He said he walked in, asked for a job and was offered one, but had to build up a clientele himself.
“I used to take that sign [out front] and stand right at the corner hustling, telling people to come in,” Rodriquez said. “When I wasn’t busy, I would stand on that corner, doing my little song and dance. People thought I was crazy, but ... I still have regular customers that first saw me when I was holding that sign.”
During Alexandria’s busiest hours — from 7 a.m. to around 9 a.m., during lunchtime, and on Fridays and weekends — Rodriquez always has a steady stream of customers waiting just for him, according to Amer Mohamed, who has owned the shop since August 1998.
While Rodriquez’s versatility alone is an asset to the business, most notable is how quickly he turns first-timers into regular customers.
On his way out the door after his first cut in August, Old Town resident Bernard Ellis promised he’d be back soon.
“Once I cut ‘em, I got em," Rodriquez said.
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