Bar­ber­shop Con­fi­den­tial

A place for “mod­ern cave­men” in Nel­son.

North & South - - North & South - FIONA TERRY

It’s been seven years since Shawn “Stormy” Stor­mann opened his Nel­son bar­ber­shop Stormy’s Man Cave. Dur­ing that time, he’s devel­oped a loyal clien­tele who’ve fol­lowed him twice to new premises, for the buzz not just of his clip­pers but also the up­beat vibe.

Lo­cated in New York loft-style premises in the city cen­tre, the Cave has be­come a com­mu­nity space where some cus­tomers just come to hang out. The foos­ball and pool tables have been do­nated by clients whose wives or part­ners have ban­ished them from the house, and the chess set and 1950s mu­sic from the juke box are pop­u­lar with those wait­ing their turn. Now Stormy and his nurse part­ner Carter Stor­mann are mak­ing a pos­i­tive im­pact on their com­mu­nity’s well­be­ing, too.

The idea for Cave­man Health evolved as Stormy found cus­tomers would of­ten open up to him while they were be­ing shorn, but he didn’t have any point of con­tact for those who needed fol­low-up help or sup­port.

“Peo­ple dis­close all kinds of things to bar­bers,” he says. “We

wanted to build bridges for guys not ad­dress­ing things on their own. Bar­bers aren’t health prac­ti­tion­ers, nor do we want to be, and while we’re happy to be an ear, I knew hav­ing some­body on hand to re­fer guys to would be re­ally ben­e­fi­cial.”

The cou­ple – who re­lo­cated to Nel­son from Maine, USA, 14 years ago – be­gan talk­ing about Carter run­ning a free walk-in men’s health clinic at the bar­ber­shop. When the dev­as­tat­ing news reached them that a client had com­mit­ted sui­cide, it was the spur they needed.

In May, they re­lo­cated all six stud­ded-leather bar­ber chairs, in­clud­ing an orig­i­nal 1800s Her­cules, to new premises. There, Carter fab­ri­cated a pod from re­cy­cled pal­lets and doors to cre­ate a “health cave” with three quar­ter-height walls that give pri­vacy but still al­low the at­mo­sphere to per­me­ate. It’s been a re­sound­ing suc­cess.

“I wanted a space that wasn’t clin­i­cal, where blokes would feel com­fort­able. More like a shed – just one where you have con­ver­sa­tions about health,” ex­plains Carter, who is soon to com­plete a mas­ter’s de­gree as a nurse prac­ti­tioner, giv­ing him scope closer to that of a GP. “Men have worse out­comes than women be­cause they don’t tend to get reg­u­lar health checks or make ap­point­ments with their doc­tor if some­thing’s awry. There’s only so much I can do in a bar­ber­shop, but it’s about start­ing con­ver­sa­tions and sup­port­ing guys into get­ting the re­sources and as­sess­ments they need.”

Other clients have of­fered help for “cave­men” in the form of free gym mem­ber­ships, health prod­uct sam­ples, and dis­counted ser­vices. “It’s sur­pris­ing the num­ber of peo­ple who dis­ap­pear in for a blood pres­sure check and then reap­pear 45 min­utes later hav­ing dis­cussed all man­ner of other is­sues trou­bling them,” says Stormy. “It’s about break­ing down the bar­ri­ers – whether that’s the ex­pense of GP ap­point­ments or the staunch­ness of the ‘She’ll be right’ at­ti­tude.”

* Cave­man Health is open on Satur­days from 10am to 2pm, no ap­point­ment nec­es­sary. To con­trib­ute to Cave­man Health or find out more, email cave­man­health@ya­hoo.com.

A wall of win­dows spills light into the loft space of Stormy’s Man Cave in Nel­son as bar­ber Kyle Crit­ten­den styles reg­u­lar cus­tomer Sam.

Be­low left: Carter takes a blood-pres­sure read­ing. “Men have worse out­comes than women be­cause they don’t tend to get reg­u­lar health checks or make ap­point­ments with their doc­tor if some­thing’s awry,” he says.

Left: Owner Shawn “Stormy” Stor­mann ( left) and nurse part­ner Carter Stor­mann by the en­trance to the new Cave­man Health pod in­side the bar­ber­shop.

Be­low right: Wait­ing cus­tomers can re­lax with some games be­fore their turn in the bar­ber chair.

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