NORTH TONAWANDA — Mert Kreps wasn’t going to let a pandemic derail his dream.
The owner of Legacy Barbershop on Erie Avenue recently opened for business and he said the community support has been overwhelming. He said he’s hoping to establish a place where people come as clients and leave as friends.
He’s also hoping to turn it into a family business.
“(My son was) asking ... I really want to cut hair someday. I really want to be a barber and he’s 11 right now but I was really thinking to myself, what am I going to do. I want to make sure, if my son really wants to do this with his life, that I have a barbershop already ready for him to come in. So when he’s of age, he can come right in, no problem,” Kreps said.
It was also the inspiration for the shop’s name. Kreps said he wanted to convey the message of family and the community. Since his son also wants to cut hair and he wants to leave a legacy for his family. He wanted to help people looking to cut hair as well as own their own barbershops someday.
He also said he found inspiration through the tragic death of Kobe Bryant.
“When Kobe Bryant died, he was never my favorite player, but I feel like it change a lot of people,” Kreps said. “At one point, I was like Kobe was invincible, nothing could happen to Kobe. Seeing that and knowing I was in the position where I had children. God, forbid something happens to me. Life’s too short. I was like, I need to do something for them so if something happens to me they’ll always be okay.”
Kreps’ wife, Amanda added the new shop has given them more leeway as a family and allows them to have more control over their schedules. The Kreps moved to North Tonawanda several years ago and have since gotten acclimated to the community. Mert and Amanda see the shop as a way to give back to the community. He started cutting hair in their kitchen for kids whose parents couldn’t afford it.
With a lot of hard work there were no delays in opening but there were some worries due to the pandemic.
“I feel like we’ve seen so many people be supportive,” Amanda said. “When the pandemic first started, and Mert wasn’t cutting because of COVID, it was crazy how many people reached out to him, clients, to see if his family needs anything, are you selling gift certificates, anything to be able to support him. It just made us feel too, like we were connected to his clients and stuff. I thought, even though there was definitely the concern of COVID, we were pretty confident that we had so much support, that we’d be able to push through.”
Kreps started making his own haircare product several years ago as many barbers purchase products like gel, wax, etc. He found it would be more cost effective to make his own stuff and went though some trial and error before perfecting it. One customer said the smell of lavender on one of the heated towels was great and something he’d use as cologne. Mert wants to do more than just use his hair care products and wants to expand it to a fragrance line as well.