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Self- made Foremost Barbershop wants to hang out

New barbershop with an old-time feel wants to be an easy, comfortable place for men to get their hair cut.
Andrew Theile, owner and operator of Foremost Barbershop, stands beside the barber chair

Andrew Theile, owner and operator of Foremost Barbershop, stands beside the barber chair /Davis Dryer

Find Foremost Barbershop


152 Fulton St. E

Grand Rapids, MI, 49503


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/Davis Dryer

For Andrew Theile, cutting hair isn’t just a job, but a way of life.

 “Getting a pair of clippers when I was a kid,” he says about how and why got into barbering. “And never liking going to the barber because I never liked my haircuts.” As time went on, he became known by his friends in high school as the kid who could give haircuts, even to the point where he tried to give himself a few fade haircuts.

“Never turned out,” he says grinning. “Didn’t have the right set-up.”

After deciding that college, like getting haircuts, wasn’t for him either, he decided to instead pursue becoming a professional barber.

“One day it just kind of came across my mind, and I thought about it. Then I just did it,” he says.

After attending barber college in Lansing, MI, Theile worked at Campus Barbershop in East Lansing. A year and a half later, Theile moved to Chicago to be closer to his girlfriend, now his wife. He then got a job at a barbershop in Chicago, where he then worked for five and a half years.

Now, Theile has moved back to MI and settled in Grand Rapids, opening Foremost Barbershop this past May. Theile and his wife renovated the shop on their own, painting walls, cleaning sinks and floors and hooking up plumbing. There is obvious satisfaction in Theile’s voice as he describes putting up walls and finding the right equipment for the shop.

“When we started looking over Michigan as a whole, we were thinking about what would be good for her and for me, and in terms of working too,” Theile says. “I decided I needed certain things, like going out and seeing music… decent places to go eat and drink. And Grand Rapids has a lot of potential here. I enjoy it here,” he says.

Seeking out a smaller, more intimate setting for his own barbershop as opposed to the shop he worked at in Chicago, Foremost Barbershop has only two barber chairs, and is currently manned by only Theile himself.

“I wanted something more personal, where I can actually know my customers,” he says.

"I’ll probably have a little bit of an online, you know, ‘business presence,’” Theile says, “But what I’m really trying to do is just hang out.” He ays he's uneasy with the online aspect of running a business, such as the email and Facebook profiles for Foremost. Neither he nor his wife have their own personal Facebook profiles, so he admits he’s learning what it takes to have Foremost be noticed online.  

He harkens back to the way barbershops used to be in the old days, where men could come in, relax, have a haircut and a shave and just talk with one another about anything with no holds barred.

“I mean, unless kids are around, then it’s just common courtesy, you know,” he says laughing.

Theile is conversational and fun while giving haircuts, bringing up all sorts of topics. He works cleanly and smoothly, with his seven years of experience clearly showing, as well as his years of unofficial practice in high school shining through as well.

“I just want to be successful and have people like their haircuts, first and foremost,” Theile says. “I want it to be a regular spot in a regular neighborhood. Foremost is gonna be there until I’m dead.” He pauses and laughs softly. “I mean, that’s ideal, right?”

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