Jake Hunker, owner of Jake's Barber Shop on Railroad Street, will give back to the town that has supported him for the last five years. Photo courtesy Facebook.

Celebrating 5 years in business, Great Barrington barber gives back to RSYP

To celebrate the success of Jake's Barber Shop, owner Jake Hunker will donate $5 for every haircut he completes from March 30 to April 3.

GREAT BARRINGTON — Next week marks the fifth anniversary of Jake Hunker opening the doors of Jake’s Barber Shop, located at 87 Railroad Street. To celebrate, Hunker will donate $5 for every haircut he completes, from March 30 to April 3, to the Railroad Street Youth Project.

Throughout Hunker’s high school career, he said in a recent interview, “I was never one to really be into my books. I was more of a hands-on person.” This characteristic spurred an interest in motorcycle mechanics, but his frequent visits to the barber shop before his basketball games and school dances proved a more promising direction for Hunker’s future.

After the sudden closure of Hunker’s previous employer, Sim’s, the barber shop formerly located on Main Street in Great Barrington, he “was forced to make the choice to either go into business for myself, or find another direction … I took the plunge, and here I am starting my fifth year.”

Jake’s Barber Shop is located at 87 Railroad Street in Great Barrington. Photo: Janey Beardsley

While Hunker was confident he could make his business successful, he always tried to “pay attention to what made my clients happy and what made people comfortable in the barber shop. It’s definitely been a journey, to say the least, but I’m grateful to say I’ve made it.”

Over the course of his five years in business, Hunker estimates he has acquired 150–200 clients and predicts that, as long as he has a full schedule next week, he should be able to donate $400–$500 to Railroad Street Youth Project.

Jake Hunker cuts a customer’s hair in his shop, pre-COVID. Photo courtesy Facebook

Hunker decided to go with RSYP because its mission resonated with him. According to the RSYP website, the organization “excels in helping youth find their voice and realize the benefits of their commitment to themselves and their community.”

RSYP is very grateful for the donation Hunker plans to make. “We are so touched that Jake thought to give back to us,” said Tiffany Riva, RSYP director of development. “We send Jake big congratulations on five years of success.”

Tiffany Riva, director of development for Railroad Street Youth Project. Photo courtesy RSYP

Riva applauds Hunker’s motivation and his connection to what RSYP stands for. “At the end of the day it’s about Jake, this young person stepping into a leadership position,” Riva said. “These are all the components Railroad Street has in its mission — the intergenerational support, community supporting community — so we are just delighted.”

Hunker’s donation, Riva said, “will go towards helping to keep Railroad Street sustainable. It’s contributions like this, from our community and our friends and neighbors, that we find so impactful.”

Dwelling on his own upbringing, Hunker explained: “It’s really great growing up in Berkshire County, but sometimes you find it hard to figure out what direction you should go in. I’m hoping that donating to the Railroad Street Youth Project can help whoever it is, whether it be one kid or a group of kids, find the same joy in the direction they choose as I did, regardless of what it is.”

Railroad Street Youth Project’s headquarters is located at Memorial Park, 60 Bridge Street, in Great Barrington. Photo: Janey Beardsley

The residents of Berkshire County seem to truly appreciate Hunker’s work and business in general. Jake’s Barber Shop has earned a five-star rating on Booksy, with over 180 reviews. The page is filled with comments praising his work. Customer Nate C. writes: “Jake’s is the only place I’ll go to get my hair cut. He’s extremely friendly, attentive, and has a clean and relaxed atmosphere in his shop!”

Hunker recognizes the support he’s received over the years from the town of Great Barrington. “I just want to show my appreciation in more ways than just continuing to provide haircuts,” he said. “I want to give back a little bit. This whole town put me where I am now.”

If interested in booking an appointment at Jake’s Barber Shop, visit booksy.com or call 413-717-4238. Hours are Tuesday, Wednesday & Friday from 9 a.m–6.pm., Thursday from 11 a.m.–8 p.m., and Saturday from 8 a.m.–3 p.m.