Poll: Should State Regulate Iconic Barber Poles?

Arear barber shop owner says a proposed law could help ease the 'bandwagon' effect of barber shops coming back into popularity.

The iconic rotating red, white and blue pole found outside traditional barber shops is now at the center of new legislation in Lansing.

State Sen. John Gleason, D-Flushing, is pushing for legislation that will allow Michigan to join 10 other states that regulate the display of barber poles for only licensed barbers, according to The Detroit News. The lawmaker said he would like the pole to continue to be a symbol of traditional, fully-licensed barbers, rather than any place that offers haircutting services.

The bill was introduced in November, according to michiganvotes.org, and would prohibit establishments like hair salons from using the barber pole unless there was an accredited barber offering services there.

Barber skills, licensing

Barbers must complete 2,000 hours of coursework at a licensed barber college and pass an examination approved by the board and the department, according to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. Cosmetologists in Michigan are required to complete 1,500 hours with different requirements.

Jason Kadlitz, owner of , dislays a barber pole outside his business — as does in downtown Birmingham — and said he agrees with what the proposed legislation aims to do.

“I think fully licensed barber shops should be the only ones to display barber poles because there’s a difference between barbers and cosmetologists. It’s a different art, otherwise they wouldn’t have separate schools,” he said.

Kadlitz, who has barbers and cosmetologists at his shop, said he believes men do still look for the barber shop symbol when choosing a place to get a haircut.

Unfortunately, he explained, many haircutting establishments are using that to their advantage.

“Especially nowadays, barber shops are kind of making a comeback. There’s a lot of people jumping on the bandwagon, calling themselves a barber shop when they are not,” he said, adding that people in the business should be the best at what they offer.

“It’s a free enterprise out there, people can do what they want, but I don’t believe in gimmicks.”

Against regulation

Not everyone weighing in on the idea of making a distinction between barbers and cosmetologist feels that the government should regulate it, though.

State Rep. Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills, proposed Michigan remove its licensing procedures for barbers back in March, The Detroit News reported.

"I just think this is one of many areas that (people) just don't need the government's … permission to have a job," he told The News. "I'm just saying you can be a barber without having to pay the government some kind of a fee and have them overseeing how you cut hair."


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