TALLMADGE — The 19-year-old owner of a new barber shop in Midway Plaza said he initially wanted to play baseball in college, but noted his career path crystallized when he looked at what he was doing with some of his spare time.

"I just caught myself always watching hair cutting videos and stuff like that on YouTube," said Dean Lauer, who is the owner of The Blis Barbershop, 85 Midway Plaza, which opened on Jan. 14. Midway Plaza is located at Brittain Road and West Avenue.

Blis is an acronym that stands for "Best Looks Improve Success."

A grand opening event on Jan. 13 drew about 35 people, including former barber college classmates, instructors, current students, and friends and family, according to Lauer.

Lauer graduated from Cardinal Mooney High School in Youngstown in 2017, and played catcher on the school’s baseball team. Lauer said he wanted to play baseball in college, but changed his mind during his junior year. He said he had played the game his "whole life," and "just kind of got burned out on it."

As he became aware of his interest in cutting hair, Lauer said he and his father drove from Youngstown to Akron to visit Beyond Expectations Expectations Barber College. Lauer noted one of his friends had attended the school.

"From the first day I went up there, it just felt like home, it felt like the place I needed to be," stated Lauer.

Lauer said he had set a goal to own a shop before his 20th birthday.

Following graduation from Beyond Expectations in June 2018, Lauer said he and Eric Garrett, owner of the barber college, searched for a location and "stumbled across" the Midway Plaza site. 

"We felt like Tallmadge needed something like this here," said Lauer. "We felt like we could give back as much as we could with having a location right here in Tallmadge."

Garrett said Lauer was the youngest person in the state to earn his master instructor’s license. Lauer has worked as an instructor at Beyond Expectations and plans to continue doing so while working in his shop.

"I’m trying to do as much as I can to help [the current students] along that path to give them as much advice that I’ve gotten and what I feel is needed that could help them prosper in the industry," said Lauer.

He noted Garrett taught him the importance of giving back to the community.

"They support you as much as they can, so it’s only right to give back and be able to support them as much as you can," said Lauer.

He said his shop will soon host free hair cutting events and added he would be willing to have his staff help the city with work it is planning to do in the cemetery. That was discussed at a recent city council meeting that was attended by Lauer and Garrett.

Lauer visited with Tallmadge administration and council members on Jan. 10. Lauer was introduced by Garrett, who said his former student had an "amazing" business plan.

Lauer praised Garrett for his mentorship.

"Mr. Eric gave me the opportunity to make my life better and since the day I went up there for my orientation, I’ve seen nothing but positive changes in my life," said Lauer.

Lauer told the Tallmadge Express he was pleased the city gave him and his co-workers a chance to have a business in town.

"I’m glad they’re going to help us prosper and we’re going to help as much as we can to give back to make Tallmadge a better place," said Lauer. "Even though it’s already a fantastic place, we want to make it that much better and I believe we can do that. I know it’s a big task, but it has to start somewhere."

About the shop

Lauer said there are five barber chairs and two cosmetologist stations in his shop.

Including himself, Lauer said that the shop currently has three barbers and one cosmetologist. He said he has two openings for barbers and one for a cosmetologist.

The shop is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The shop takes appointments every day, but also accepts walk-in business.

The phone number is 234-678-5495.

Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, pkeren@recordpub.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.