In March of 2003, John David Madison and his father were taking a walk down East Bay Street, headed to Southend Brewery for lunch. They were discussing where to go in the Charleston area to get a haircut, and as they entered Southend, they noticed a "For Lease" sign going up at 32 Vendue. Madison told his father right then that 32 Vendue would be the perfect place for his barberspa idea.
The idea came to Madison over the course of many years as a Sales Manager for The Mills House Hotel and other area resorts. As a Sales Manager, he travelled all over the States, and was continually meeting, hosting, and on the go. With the little time he had for grooming, he grew frustrated with the norm, and wanted something different. He best sums it up in his own words:
"At the traditional barbershop, I had to wait for long periods of time because they did not take appointments. And often, I would have to give up my place in line so that I could see the same barber that trimmed me the time before. So, I was there waiting a good while most times. If it was a Saturday, there were often kids all over the place. The one television they had was always playing cartoons or game shows... It was while I was sitting on a bench, in a small barbershop in Mount Pleasant, that I started thinking about what I wanted... On a Saturday, I want the game on, and I want it on a TV that I can see. I want a cold beer. I want to be able to make an appointment so I don't spend half my day waiting at the barbershop. If I do have to wait, I want to wait in comfort. In search, I started trying regular salons (where they do women's hair and nails). The appointment aspect was about the only part of that idea that I liked. I simply can't do the smell of fingernail polish remover. And though I had an appointment, I was often rushed between the higher-paying female clients. The magazines were old and geared towards women, and I still didn't have a TV with the game on…"
"It was in identifying what I didn't want that gave birth to the idea of what I did want. The idea of Gents led to my simple plan: create a place that I would like to go, with services that I want, and if there are any other guys out there like me, then Gents will do well."
Little did Madison know at the time just how right he was. He started to work on his idea in March of 2003, and opened the doors in September that same year. By 2006, his idea had spread all over the country. Though Madison never wanted to franchise, people have taken his ideas back to their home towns. He has consulted and advised several companies to immolate the Gents method in cities as far as Minneapolis and Tulsa. Many others have taken ideas from Gents and created their own versions.
The Gents Barberspa mission is to bring quality barber services and spa services together, in an atmosphere that is more suited to a gentleman. Combine the best of barbering and styling techniques for a new type of haircut experience. Offer services that have historically been geared towards females -- like manicures and pedicures, facials and massages... but do it in a way that allows the gentleman to feel like a man. This is the Gents way.
In late 2005, Madison turned the reins of Gents over to hired management, and went on to pursue other new ideas and ventures. He partnered on several real estate developments in Charleston, and continues to have his hand in real estate and hospitality projects. Gents grew over the years, and in March of 2009, Madison and his wife took the reins back. They expanded the Spa, and created 2 faces for Gents: The Quiet Side which offers massage, facials, and waxing -- and The Loud Side, which offers haircuts and shaves. Each side has a waiting room that matches the corresponding title. The Quiet Side has leather recliners and a very soothing atmosphere. The Loud Side has leather couches, comfy chairs, flat screens showcasing sports and news, and great views of East Bay Street and Vendue Range.
Gents is conveniently located in the heart of Historic Charleston, and is an active member of the community. Gents has sponsored over 20 different local charities over the years, and has recently partnered with the Prostate Cancer Foundation, to promote awareness and raise money for research and development.
Gents is open Monday through Saturday, 9AM - 7PM, and on Sundays by pre-appointment only. In addition, Gents caters to private functions, pre-wedding parties, and any occasion that brings gentleman together.