What Others Are Saying
A Little Slice of Mayberry in Murfreesboro
By Clinton Gill
Ah, the local barber shop, the last bastion of childhood; that Saturday morning ritual where boys learn to be men by imitating their dads, talking politics and fishing to the tune of the humming clippers. The walls of Drake’s Barbershop are lined with a rich history told through trophies and local memorabilia left by its customers since opening in 1972. The establishment, located at 1117 Memorial Blvd, has become an institution in Murfreesboro and one can always find themselves in good company there. In the mornings there’s Bible study, and in the afternoons customers can catch a rerun of The Andy Griffith show while the barbers work their magic.
Robert Drake, the shop’s namesake, was a 40-year veteran of his craft. He was well known and loved in the community not only for his ability to cut hair but also for his welcoming smile and fondness for fishing stories. Dan Whittle, a former staff columnist for the Daily News Journal, once wrote about him that “Drake never let facts interfere with telling a good story.” Sadly Drake died from lung cancer in 1996. Drake’s motto was “customer first,” an adage that has transcended ownership, and is still alive and well today despite the hustle and bustle of an ever increasingly impersonal world.
Jason Rigney, 32, is the newest owner of Drake’s. He stands around 5 feet 11 inches, and just as one could expect from a barber, always looks neatly trimmed. His dazzling smile and friendly voice welcomes customers, new and old. Jason is a family man who hopes that one day his 19 month old son Cooper can take over the business.
Rigney grew up an all-American kid in Murfreesboro. His father worked for RC Cola while his mother stayed home and raised the children. In his teenage years he wrestled for Riverdale High School. Ironically he joined the Marines when he turned 17 years old because he was tired of his parents telling him what to do. He was assigned to a Motor Transport company in Twentynine Palms, but it wasn’t long before he found that he had a niche for cutting hair. He started out cutting his own, and soon his fellow soldiers were asking him to cut their hair as well. He was so good that he could charge two dollars more than what the pros were charging in town.
Rigney loved the Marine Corps and had planned on doing 20 years in the service; however, fate had different plans. “I prayed that God would show me his will,” Rigney said. In 1996 he was involved in an auto accident that sent his jeep flipping seven times down the interstate. He suffered a traumatic brain injury, which took his memory of that day and left him in a coma. The doctors said that he would never wake up. When he woke up a month later the doctors said he would never be able to talk again. When he started to talk they said he would never be able to walk again, but Jason kept proving them wrong. His recovery took about a year but he never gave up and he never lost his faith.
Rigney’s calling in life is to help others in his community, which he felt he was best suited to do so through his talent for trimming. He attended the International Barber and Style College in Madison. From there he worked for a small shop in Smyrna before fate once again knocked on his door.
Larry Clark had taken over Drake’s Barbershop after Robert passed on. He was an uncle of sorts to Jason and asked him to sub in while he was feeling ill. In 2003 Larry passed on as well, leaving the former barracks barber to take up the reins.
Rigney, who worked for Robert Drake for a time, has left the shop much the same as it was when Drake owned it. He has made some changes to keep up with a growing market though. When Drake’s first started it was one of eight barbershops in Rutherford County, now it is one of about 250. The competition has forced him to modernize; you can find them on the web at www.drakesbarbershop.com, and if you sign up as a preferred customer you’ll get a coupon for a free haircut or shave during the month of your birthday. However, Drake’s is still one of the few places that you can go to get the smoothness of a straight razor shave. It’s the best of both worlds, and kid friendly. In the backroom a toy John Deere tractor has been converted into a chair for the kids to get their cuts, and the wall of Polaroid’s chronicling first haircuts is chock-full of smiles.
Jason employs a highly competent and customer oriented staff. Stan Reed, 48, is a 17-year haircutting veteran who came back to Drake’s after stints in Lebanon and Knoxville. Steven Ballard, 25, is a favorite among MTSU students who remember him from The Chair by Greek Row. When Steven applied, Drake’s wasn’t hiring, but when he produced a walking resume to demonstrate his superb skills he got the job. Drake’s Barber Shop is all about quality: “We believe that you, the client, are walking ‘billboards’ or advertisement if you will. Your hair represents our work. We also believe that if you take care of your customer, they'll take care of you.” To prove it Drake’s offers $10 haircuts to seniors on Wednesdays, and punch cards that offer a free haircut or shave after your sixth visit.
Throughout his life Jason has wanted to help his community. The retired Marine and combat veteran is now the adjutant for the American Legion, whose primary role is community service. His dedication to country and community can be seen on the walls. The decorations are left mostly by customers: a hodgepodge of license plates and hats, trophy fish and newspaper clippings, photos and letters, and all types of military relics…there’s even a flag that was flown over Camp Victory, Iraq. Rigney wants the customers to feel part of the shop.
When asked if he’d ever cut the hair of anyone famous he replied “sure, everybody’s hair I cut is famous to me.”
My 2 year old son absolutely loved the John Deere tractor. But I have to admit the haircut was incredible my son. Jason also gave me the single best hair cut I have ever had. It is very apparent that something is very right about Drakes Barber Shop. The whole world needs to know what a nice person you are in addition to the top notch service you gave us. My wife is very exacting about everthing. ( the past math teacher inside her ) And she raved about what a great job you did on our hair. It was very important to her that we look sharp this week, since I willl be a pall bearer in her grandmothers funeral. We really also just wanted you to know even though you had a ton of people waiting on your one of a kind service. You made us feel #1. this did not go unnoticed. Everyone will know about how much I like your family friendly place of business. Thanks again John Goodman
Jason, I really enjoy fresh air and freedom! Thanks to people like you, we live in a free country. Your barber shop continues in the tradition of providing an excellent value in a hometown barber shop. I enjoy the visit with you as much as I do the haircut. You do a great job. I tell everyone that mentions needing a haircut to go to Drakes! Keep up the good work and keep the faith. Thanks again, Bill Austin
Nothing like a hot lather neck shave and the service you get at Drake's. If you need a trim in the Boro then you need to get to Drake's.
I just recently started coming to Drakes since January. I moved here from Alabama and so far I have never felt so at home. A very friendly and personable group of guys that create a very comfortable atmosphere. I have had a "cut" from everyone there and I can honestly say all are above par. As a Army officer, my appearance is essential in making an impression and upholding standards. With that said, I know that I can stop by Drake's moments prior to a meeting and come out looking and feeling great. Thanks guys, you all do a great job.
2+ years good cuts friendly folks fair prices unrushed service. I recommend drakes to all my buds
I just got my haircut by jason at drakes barber shop and I m please to tell you that he did a great job. I would highly recommend all men to forego the quick 15 minute barber shop places in favor of drakes. It's got a good old time feel, the prices are very reasonable and the conversation is great. Do yourself a favor and check this place out, you won't regret it.
Jason your shop is awesome ! You're a man worthy of his hire ! And you know where I got that :) Thanks for all the good haircuts You have a good following and will for as long as you're there .Not everyone will be happy so never try to be a people pleaser but continue the excellence that you and your staff provide and you will do awesome . Keep the friendly shop and welcome all who come to get their hair cuts , Thanks for being a good Barber for all !