Yondersea comes to Ferndale

New barbershop open in former Gent’s Club space

By Brent Lindquist
[email protected]

Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 8.45.17 AM FERNDALE — When Kevin Bell lost his job and his livelihood, he learned a very big life lesson.
  “When you have absolutely nothing to lose, the things that you’ve always wanted to do suddenly become a lot more believable,” he said.
  With a baby on the way and, as he said, nothing to lose, Bell decided to go to school to tackle something he had always had something of a passion for ­— being a barber.
  A veteran of the Navy, Bell picked up a pair of clippers and learned a thing or two about cutting hair. He charged $2 per haircut, and he liked it.
  After finishing his time in the Navy, however, Bell didn’t dive straight into cutting hair.
  “There was this pressure to get right to work,” he said. “I laid it on the shelf, and for years and years and years, driving truck was a good living. But it just kept me away from my family for a long time.”
  Bell worked at Ferndale Grain for a while, but after Cargill took over, he said the demand for sack feed slowly dwindled. When the economy crashed in 2008, he was laid off from his job. He lost everything, he said, including his retirement fund.
  That was when he decided to try being a barber. He went to barber school, then worked for two different barbers for the first half of his first year. He eventually opened his own barber shop: Yondersea Men’s Grooming Lounge.
  Bell opened the lounge inside Mayberry Sporting Goods Store across from Bellingham High School.
  “It was a great success, but the sporting goods store was not. So while it was going, we were finding we had a lot of volume, so we opened up a second shop,” Bell said. “That one was on Meridian Street.”
  Bell refers to that second shop as a lifeboat, because Mayberry eventually gave Yondersea three weeks’ notice that it would be closing down. Bell moved the business entirely to the Meridian location.
  He always had an eye for Ferndale, however. When looking for a new location, he had considered the space that would eventually become Gent’s Club Barber Shop, located at 2018 Main St.
  “We love old school. We love the old-fashioned barbershop, and we love Main Street. We were heartbroken when we didn’t get on that location quicker,” Bell said. “We put all our focus into making our Meridian Street location successful, and we got up to four barbers besides myself.”
  When that business shut down following a social media firestorm ignited by Facebook comments written by the shop’s operator, Bell negotiated with the owner to purchase the place. That was a few weeks ago, and the new Yondersea location is already up and running, with Bell at the helm and his team of trained barbers operating the Meridian location.
  Bell and his wife, esthetician Angela Bell, have a simple goal for the Ferndale location: to bring it back into the town’s good graces.
  “We’re firm believers in redemption,” he said. “We came from the pit of despair ourselves. In 2008 and 2009, we’d both been through divorces, lost our houses and our cars. We started with absolutely nothing, and our lives are redeemed.”
  Bell’s business philosophy centers on bringing back the camaraderie he found at barbershops back in the 1960s.
  “I remember getting my hair cut in the 1960s,” he said, “before Beatlemania completely took over. I remember the barbershop that my grandfather took me to, the manly mystique of the place. There was a camaraderie, and I carried that with me.”
  Bell said that throughout the 1980s, unisex salons began to grow in popularity and mostly replaced traditional barbershops. He said he always wanted to return to that manly place he remembered.
  “I maintain a lot of the old-school traditions,” Bell said. “Every haircut is finished with a straight-razor neck shave with a hot lather. We don’t color or perm or give you a shampoo or any of that other stuff. We give you just a darn good haircut and some good company.”
  Bell said he and his wife place a big emphasis on community. To them, community equals communication, connection and relationships.
  For the Bells, the barbershop is more than a business. It’s a way to build up that community.
  “We can do our own little part to promote community, and getting to know each other and communicate with each other. It wasn’t a business decision. It’s a reflection of our hearts. The best thing a Christ-follower can do is to be a blessing to people, and that’s what we try to do.”
  Yondersea Men’s Grooming Lounge is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Visit Yondersea.com for more information on the lounge.