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Posted: Wednesday, March 21, 2012 3:07 pm

The League Barbershop and Salon in Ahwatukee Foothills prides itself on its ability to cater to the diverse East Valley community.

Owner Dhil Johnson, 35, is African-American, but does not consider The League to be a stereotypical black barbershop.

“We try to break the barrier, Johnson said. “We specialize in all nationalities and haircuts.”

Rome Reed, 28, has been a barber at The League for two years and feels that the shop’s ability to cater to a diverse clientele makes them unique.

“We specialize in custom haircuts,” Reed said. “We will give you whatever you want.”

With such a focus on quality and precision, Johnson does not just let anyone who wants to become a barber work at his shop. He is particular about who he hires.

“Just because you have a license, it’s not enough,” Johnson said. “To work here, you have to have years and years of experience.”

Another thing Johnson looks for is passion. He is looking for what he calls “lifers,” barbers who are in it for the long haul.

“Barbers like us don’t retire,” Reed said. “We die.”

Troy Vickpers, 73, has been getting his hair cut at The League for about a year and calls it “the best shop in the Valley.”

Aside from the quality haircuts, Vickpers said the “pleasant atmosphere” and “great conversation” at The League is what keeps him coming back.

“”It’s a family atmosphere,” Johnson said. “It’s almost like a Cheers vibe, where everyone knows your name.”

The topic of conversation at The League ranges from sports to current events to family life, but a few things always remain the same. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, everyone is shown respect, and there is no profanity.

Reed feels that the atmosphere and conversation is key to the barbershop’s popularity.

“The different personalities really shape the shop,” Reed said. “There is always a different flavor of characters.”

The League has a total of four locations around the Valley. Johnson opened the Ahwatukee shop a little less than three years ago after popular demand.

“A lot of my best clients (at my other shops) were from here and told me I should open a shop here,” Johnson said. “I also like the way Ahwatukee is such a close-knit community.”

Located at 42nd Street and Chandler Boulevard next to CK’s Tavern and Grill, Johnson feels that his barbershop’s proximity to CK’s is key.

“CK’s is my anchor,” Johnson said. “I wanted my spot to be next to the main hub in Ahwatukee.”

Johnson plans on making The League a franchise once it gains enough notoriety and hopes that his business continues to grow.

Right now, he feels he has a “top-notch” barbershop. And at the end of the day, he feels his shop’s quality and commitment to be the best is what makes The League successful.

“Almost of 100 percent of the people we cut, come back,” Johnson said. “Some people don’t realize a good haircut until they get one.”

The League Barbershop and Salon, 4142 E. Chandler Blvd., Suite 101, is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For more information, call (480) 759-1298

Pat Marrujo is a student at The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State University.

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