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Central Valley Barber College: New Building, Same Family
Barber College
The larger building now housing Central Valley Barber College in Riverbank made room for 34 stations and allows students to take customers with minimal wait times. - photo by VIRGINIA STILL
Barber College
Central Valley Barber College owners Carl Gibbs and Rhonda Arnold are delighted to bring their students a new and improved school. - photo by VIRGINIA STILL

Central Valley Barber College at 3501 Atchison St., Riverbank, has been renovated and to celebrate they are having a Grand Opening on June 26 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Owners, Rhonda Arnold and Carl Gibbs have taken the family business to the next level with their new shop.

The extensive remodel took about two years and the original shop was removed, which allowed room for a parking lot. Classes and cuts continued for the most part as the building was demolished during a school break and when they resumed the students attended classes in the new building.

They are continuously enrolling students as classes begin on the first Monday of each month.

“We are always enrolling people,” said Gibbs. “We are full all the time; as you can tell we are pretty busy in here. As many people are graduating that is how many people, we are bringing in each month. We just got accredited.”

They are California State approved to teach the “Art of Barbering” and have been working on getting financial aid options for their students. They are now able to accept the GI Bill so veteran students can pay for their schooling and tools.

Arnold went to barber school directly after high school and has been barbering for over 40 years.

Gibbs is her son and he has a BA in Business Administration and over 10 years in the Beauty and Barber industry.

The original shop on Atchison was opened in 2014 by Dave White who has been in the barbering business for over 60 years. He is Arnold’s dad and the grandfather of Gibbs. Years ago, White and his wife, Janice had 30 shops at one time across the country including Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon and Hawaii.

When the economy crashed in 2008, they began closing their shops, noted Arnold which led her dad to the idea of opening a barber school. At first, she was not on board to teach but after researching the options for barber colleges in the area, she agreed to open the college with her dad.

It took them two years to get approved and then they were able to open the school in 2014.

“All our graduates love it (the school),” stated Arnold. “All the barber shops that they work in they see the quality of work they do. We get them barber shop ready. We teach them very traditional barbering. All the customer service. We do hot towels. We do hot lather shaves. We use a razor. We don’t cut corners.”

Although they teach traditional barbering Arnold added that they also watch You Tube and research the new styles.

She added, “They do amazing work. If you see some of their haircuts, they do beautiful work. We get them ready.”

In 2018 Gibbs joined the business and has partnered with Arnold to run the college. White still frequents the school and oversees operations along with sharing barber stories with the students.

“He loves to be here and watch everything and talk to the students and tell them his old barber stories,” noted Gibbs. “It is cool to see. It is really fun for him.”

The new location is much bigger than the original building and has allowed them to have a classroom, a mannequin area and 34 stations to work on customers. They no longer have the wait times that they used to have for customers to get services. Haircuts are $5 and for $10, customers can get a haircut and a shave.

Gibbs said, “People can come in and get right into a chair. So that has been really nice for customers too.”

Instructors walk around and assist the students with all types of haircuts and services. According to Gibbs, at other schools they may do 50 to 80 cuts their entire session and at their school the minimum is 250 haircuts and their students go way over that.

“It is all hands on,” explained Arnold. “That is how they get their experience. Other schools they don’t get as many customers. That is one of our big selling points.”

This January the state changed the hours from 1500 to 1000 hours as a requirement to obtain their license. Arnold and Gibbs were not fond of this new change and made attempts to fight it to at least 1200 hours but that is what the state requires now.

Their students come from all over and a few have moved from out of state to attend the Central Valley Barber College. They have several regulars and new customers that have come from Modesto, Oakdale, and Escalon for haircuts.

“You go to the salon to get a certain type of service and you go to a barber shop to get a certain kind of service,” expressed Gibbs. “We make it an experience. We try to instill that in them here. That is why people keep coming back to our barber shop; for the whole experience.”

Barber College
The Central Valley Barber College has a new building with a much larger space and now has a large parking lot to accommodate more customers at the Atchison Street, Riverbank, location. - photo by VIRGINIA STILL
Barber College
The new Central Valley Barber College has a classroom where students can study and take their written tests. - photo by VIRGINIA STILL