Spencer Martin Barber Shop, first-ever barber shop in Bedford, wins yet another award in best-of contest

Spencer Martin Barber Shop, owned by Spencer and Judy Hibbard, is Bedford’s only barber shop, a modern, brightly lit establishment located in the Village Shoppes of Bedford, 178 Route 101.

The barber shop is designed to resemble an old-time barber’s emporium. Three barbers – Spencer Hibbard, master barber Steve LaLiberte and master barber Terry Cotter – bring their expertise to all who enter there.

Vintage photos, sports memorabilia and Harley-Davidson collectibles draw attention, as does the wide-screen television that last week broadcast the opening game of baseball season.

The couple is most proud of a series of awards that has graced the shop, now celebrating its fourth year in business. Most recently, the shop was recognized as the Best Barber Shop for 2014 among contenders throughout the Greater Manchester area as judged by The Hippo, a weekly tabloid newspaper.

The barber shop won a similar Best Barber Shop award after just one year in business. In addition, Spencer Hibbard won an honor as Best Barber in 2011. Taking the Best Barber award for 2012 and 2013 was Steve LaLiberte.

The recognition of having the shop win, once again in 2014, the Best Barber Shop award was proof, the couple concurred, that their dream of operating a shop regarded as excellent has come true.

Judy replenished a supply of bottled water kept on hand for the staff and and for thirsty customers. She said the awards are especially meaningful because the contest’s votes are cast by patrons, rather than a panel of judges.

“I think that we really appreciate the honors because the voting is done by customers,” Judy said. “It’s the people who vote. Each year since we’ve opened, somebody here, or the shop, has been recognized.”

Spencer said that he and his wife have retained the shop’s clientele by adhering to an adopted motto: Enter as strangers, leave as friends.

He and Judy, each the owner of a Harley, met more than five years ago through their motorcycling activities. They married four years ago and scouted locations for a barber shop. Their choice of a site with plenty of parking and access to a major highway was perfect.

Upon the completion of their wedding ceremony, elsewhere, Spencer and Judy boarded their bikes at the newly opened shop and rode with a group of 15 other riders to the seacoast. A casual wedding celebration ensued. Then, it was back to work.

“I lived in Bedford,” Judy said. “Bedford never had a barber shop. It was a good spot to be.”

Spencer noted that they wanted to accommodate all ages – adults, teens and youngsters – in search of a good haircut.

Judy has a grown son in college and an eighth-grader at Bedford’s middle school. Spencer is the dad of a fifth-grader at a school in Merrimack, and a second-grader at another school in the town. The families of classmates were among the first to visit the new barber shop.

The couple thus far has extended their barber hospitality to hundreds. Among those accommodated are members of the Bedford High School varsity hockey team. More than a dozen on the team received mullets at the barber shop. Soon after, the team won the state championship.

Jack Sweeney, of Bedford, settled into the chair for a haircut from Spencer. Sweeney said he is rather particular when it comes to how his hair is cut.

“There have been three people who have cut my hair,” Sweeney said. “I used to drive 40 miles back to Plaistow for a cut. Then, Spencer came along. I don’t have to tell him what to do and there’s good conversation.”

Steve LaLiberte spent eight years in the plumbing industry before entering a barber school in Concord, N.H. His score in the practical portion of the final exam was perfect – 100 percent. A previous tenure at a shop in Hooksett prepared him for joining the Hibbards.

Spencer finished Sweeney’s haircut, as LaLiberte welcomed two brothers, Matthew and Jacob Kaczanowski. Their mom, Jennifer, said the boys never fuss about getting a haircut and always appreciate the post-haircut reward – a lollipop with a flexible, looped handle instead of a rigid stick.

“I try to have fun with the kids who come in.” LaLiberte said as Matthew sat very still. “I have three kids, Noah, Max and Margo. Max got his first haircut here.”

Other customers waited for their turn to see one of the three barbers. David Booth, of Merrimack, ventured into the shop after noticing it during a drive along Route 101. He now returns often. Paul Carroll, of Manchester, said his son received a first haircut at the shop. John Ryan, of Manchester, waited his turn along with his son, Gannon, 14. He said Gannon and another son, Liam, 11, both come to the shop for haircuts.

Terry Cotter, of Merrimack, presides over the center chair in the line of three antique barber chairs, each manufactured by Koken in the early 1950s. Cotter has 20 years of experience, mostly in Nashua and in Marblehead, Mass.

“There’s a nice, family atmosphere here,” Cotter said, as she clipped a style for Noah Chaberek, 14, an eighth-grader in Bedford. “I’ve always loved barbering. I like to see the finished look when I’m done with a cut.”

Spencer and Judy said they are proud to own the first barber shop ever to open in Bedford.

Joan Shaw Reeves, co-president of the Bedford Historical Society, added comment. She said that in the 1700s and 1800s men were apt to have long hair and beards.

“They’d sit them down in the kitchen and cut their hair with a straight razor,” Reeves said. “They didn’t shave or have short hair, like today. They’d just cut it off.”

Spencer said that the 12 years he spent at Stanley’s Barber Shop, in Manchester, gave him a good idea of the experience it takes to nurture the good faith of customers. Now, Spencer sees customers from many towns. They come to the shop for their own barbering needs and many return with sons and grandsons.

“It’s all coming together,” Spencer said. “We have customers coming from all over.”

For more information on Spencer Martin Barber Shop, open some nights until 7 p.m., call 471-3606, see Facebook, or visit online: www.spencermartinbarbers.com.