Ali wanted to open a barbershop for some time. With family and friends in the area, he recognized the potential for a friendly home-grown shop catering to the local community. "There are lots of good people in this neighbourhood," he says. "I saw there was no barbershop in this particular area - I knew the LRT was coming through, and thought it would be smart to establish and hold out during construction and enjoy the benefits once the project was complete."
In Novermber of 2019, Ali signed a lease to open Capone's Barbeshop on 14724 Stony Plain Rd. Little did he know of what was to come. With the rise of COVID-19 he was forced to lay off his just-hired staff, and endure a prolounged period of restrictions, a depressed economy, and doubt.
"The community saved me"
Despite the initial cloud looming over the horizon, Ali knew he has to take action to ensurehis long-term survival. He printed out $5 coupons, delivering them across multiple neighbourhoods via Canada Post and canvassing campaigns with friends and family. He engaged staff at local schools, offering to come in protective gear and provide haircuts. He also did the same at the University of Alberta, and hospitals.
His efforts would prove fruitful: On the first day pandemic restrictions were lifted, 60-some people lined up for haircuts at his shop, many with coupons in hand! Ali organized with the Pizza 73 next door, ensuring everyone had a slice while they waited, and got to work. "This community saved me" he says, a testament to his recognition in building a client base thouhgh both creativity and authenticity.
"Welcome to the family"
Today, Ali promotes a friendly environment where people can come and be themselves. He enjoys the organic relationships that he has made, his many repeat customers, and the confidence he inspires in his clients and their self image. "I like to shake my customers hands after their first hair cut with me and say 'Welcome to the family'". With a growing population of young professionals and new home owners, he knows his services are both required and desired.
When it comes to the Valley Line West LRT, in Ali's eyes, it's a positive addition to the broader Stony Plain Road family of businesses - A quick and convenient way to bring people to and from the area, on a more regular basis. That's what brought him to the area in the first place.
If he can navigate through COVID as a new business owner, the sky is truly the limit - Check out Capone's Barbershop!