Traditional Barbering Returns to Main Street

Photo: Josh Noyes is now offering a range of traditional barbering services at Thumos at 415 Main Street. Shown is Colby Moholland, who was excited to go to a barbershop aimed at men rather than a salon, receiving a haircut to his full satisfaction.

By Lura Jackson

It’s been a long while since Main Street has been graced with the presence of a traditional barbershop, but that loss is felt no longer. With the opening of Thumos at 415 Main Street on Tuesday, Calais once again now hosts a place where “men can still be men” at the same time as enjoying a family-friendly atmosphere. Owned and operated by Josh Noyes, Thumos even offers the ultimate in man-pampering: the straight razor face shave.
Noyes was born and raised in Topsfield and is a graduate of Woodland High School. After graduating, he attended the University of Maine in Orono before joining the Air Force. He served in the security forces for eight years and was deployed twice, including to the Middle East. When not deployed, he worked with the state of Maine as a forest ranger, which he described as “a really good job.” After a time, he got to a point where he “kind of got tired of wearing a uniform” and began looking for a job that would enable him to express his artistic side at the same time as continuing to serve the community.
Last year, Noyes had the opportunity to attend barbering school. He chose the New England School of Barbering in Concord, New Hampshire, which, at the time, was the closest location that offered the traditional barber program he was looking for. After eleven months of intensive training in a small-class environment led by David Caron (a Maine native) and his wife Cynthia, Noyes graduated with his master barber’s license.
Noyes notes that the New England School of Barbering accepts VA benefits and added that, like him, many of his classmates were veterans themselves – something that he has noticed about many barbers. “It kind of makes sense. Those guys want to serve the community. You’re on your feet all day, but at the same time you get a sense of helping people out and providing a good service.” The students of the school, including Noyes, had the opportunity to express their thanks to other veterans by spending a full day in the inner city in Massachusetts cutting the hair of homeless veterans.
During the second half of his schooling, Noyes took a job working for Rick’s Barber Shop in Meredith, New Hampshire. “He’s a really good barber,” he said of Rick. “He kind of took me under his wing a little bit. He’s a very good mentor and teacher. I still talk to him now and then.” It was there at Rick’s shop that Noyes really began to master his trade. “As you work and get in the real world, that’s where you start to experience what you need to experience.”
With his license in hand, Noyes and his wife Amy returned to Maine. They set their sights on the Main Street in Calais, and soon found what appeared to be the ideal location. “This place fit what I envisioned – everything in here, I had it in mind.” Noyes describes the style of the shop as “kind of rustic but a little bit contemporary, too. It’s bringing the old and new together.” The shop features an antique barber’s chair acquired from the school in New Hampshire. Just next to it is a toddler’s chair in the shape of a vehicle for those who would prefer it. The floor is classic checkered black and white; the walls are lined with traditionally male-oriented imagery including sports stars, classic rock musicians, cars, and military themes, each of which Noyes readily admits to personally enjoying. One section, which Noyes refers to as the “Vets’ Wall”, shows the photos of area veterans. Noyes encourages the public to come in and post their own photos to build a community of veterans in the area. Fitting perfectly with Noyes’s concept of unifying the old and new, the shop’s cash register is an antique that belonged to his grandmother, Hazel Noyes. Noyes describes his grandmother, who was the owner of an old country store and post office in Topsfield, as one of the first successful small business owners in his family.
The shop itself was not a solo project. In fact, Noyes employed the efforts of local businesses widely, including Coastal Glass, which provided the 9’ mirror, Chip Howell roofing, which provided the metal backing on one wall, Cabin Fever, which helped Noyes to design the logo, and Riverside Electric, which did much of the electrical work. Even Noyes’s “Auntie Em” – Emma Irish – contributed by artfully producing the stylized menu on an antique door. “Everybody has a part in a piece of the shop,” said Noyes.
The services that Noyes offers are exactly what you would expect from a traditional barber. A haircut of any type, stylized or not, is $16. For children under 10 and seniors over 65, haircuts are $14. For those seeking a skin fade or a head shave, a process that includes hot lather, hot towels, and then cold towels, it’s $18. “That’s one of my favorite things to do, a full head shave. Some guys like it real squeaky clean,” said Noyes. Men with beards are in luck as Noyes also offers beard trimming for $12 or $9 if include with a haircut. “Guys are serious about their beards. I’m serious about mine, shaping it and trimming it,” he said.
The most extensive service Noyes offers is the straight razor face shave. Surprisingly, it was the first service requested when he did a soft opening last week. “They were really big on it at school and I enjoy doing it,” Noyes said, adding that he had previous clients that would fall asleep during the treatment. “It’s supposed to be relaxing.” Men who request this service are laid back in the chair before receiving hot lather and hot towels in three applications. Afterwards, Noyes performs a quick facial massage and then applies Bay Rum or a moisturizer as requested. “I hope it catches on,” Noyes said.
As soon as it was mentioned, Walt Cummings provided his opinion: “If he’s offering it, I’m taking it,” he said. “It’s a phenomenal feeling. It’s been quite a while since I’ve had one.” Cummings was among the first customers at the soft opening, having heard about the shop from a military friend online.
If you’re wondering about the shop’s name, Thumos, it comes from Greek mythology. It was used to refer to the warrior spirit or high passion, as would be found in a spirited stallion, the shop’s logo. For Noyes, a man who has clearly found his calling, the name couldn’t be more appropriate.
Thumos is open Tuesdays 8-4, Wednesdays 8-6, Thursdays 8-4, Fridays 8-4, and Saturdays 8-1. To make an appointment, call 454-2300, or contact thumosshop@gmail.com. To find out more, visit www.thumosbarbershop.com.