Somewhere nestled in Downtown Bryan there's a place that's been around for almost a three quarters of a century. It's a place where time stands still and is reminiscent of a nostalgic era when a good haircut, a shave, a shoe-shine and good conversation is what drew men to the barber shop.
These days, you'll find Nap Cole running The City Barber Shop and it isn't just shear luck that makes him a cut above some of the others. Those who know Nap will tell you he's a man of few words who believes listening is a better quality to have, but when he does speak, you're sure to learn all about him.
Nap Cole says, "I've been to Athens, Greece; Lisbon, Portugal; Madrid, Spain; Naples, Italy; Hong Kong a gillion times...Japan, Manila, Hawaii twice, Guam, been to Australia, been to South Africa twice."
Alton Cole or Nap as his friends call him, may have been around the world twice, but when you walk into his barber shop, you would swear you're stepping back in time and one would probably never believe he's ever left the Brazos Valley. And just like in Downtown Bryan, inside his shop, there are signs of days gone-by, signs of simpler times and signs that time hasn't stood still at all. The City Barber Shop has been in the heart of downtown for 72 years and even though Nap himself hasn't been there that long, he holds onto the old ways of doing business. For instance, Nap knows his customers and knows what they like.
John Rowan, one of Nap's patrons says, "One of the things I like about coming here is I've only had to tell him once how I like my haircut and he remembers."
John's father, Neil Rowan says, "This is still like I was 15-years-old and finally getting my haircut in town, you know. It's the atmosphere as much as anything else."
Inside the barbershop you won't hear any trendy music and you certainly won't find any fancy furniture. Instead, all you'll find is good old-fashioned service followed by one of Nap's smile's, hearty laughs and maybe a piece of good advice.
"He does a lot more listening," Neil Rowan emphasizes.
Nap Cole chimes in that for him "It's like being a psychiatrist."
Cole's ability to listen and his skill with the scissors has made him a hit not just in Downtown Bryan but all over the Brazos Valley, with some of his customers traveling from miles and miles away just to have him cut their hair and even share some of those special moments with their family. So, what exactly are those special moments? The answer is simple, he shares their joy and is honored that people have chosen them to give that oh so important first haircut. But there is one other reason he's such a favorite and through laughter, he points out that he's the shop's favorite because he's the only one who works there.
All joking aside, the secret to Nap's success is simple, he gets to work about 4:30 every morning, makes coffee and once he unlocks the front door before 6 a.m. he starts cutting hair and just keeps on cutting all day long.