Saturday, June 28, 2014

Frankfort Black Barber Marketed to Legislators

During my research I have assumed that a good deal of the customers for Frankfort's black barbers came from the state's body of legislators. The state House of Representatives had 100 members and the Senate was composed of 38 men. And, although they came in and out of session during the year, they added significantly to the population pool of potential customers who needed shaves, haircuts, baths, and other services offered by the capital city's barbers when they were in town. However, until recently, I had not located an advertisement where a barber marketed directly to the state's legislators. 

Edmund Spillman operated a barber shop below the Mansion House hotel on the northwest corner of St. Clair and Main Street in Frankfort. In an advertisement (above) in the June 22, 1848 (which also apparently ran earlier) edition of the Frankfort Kentucky Yeoman, a Democratic Party sheet, Spillman invited the "members of the Legislature, and the community at large" to stop in. Spillman explained he was "prepared to Shave, Trim Hair, and do all things in his line of business, in the most expeditious and agreeable manner, and the most reasonable terms." Spillman also ran a similar advertisement in the Frankfort Commonwealth, a Whig Party sheet, the same year.

According to an 1846 Yeoman advertisement, Spillman had previously operated his barber shop on Broadway Street, although the ad doe not state exactly where. I'm left to wonder for what reasons Spillman moved his shop. Did he desire to increase his business by being in a hotel that catered to legislators and thus made his services more convenient that in his old location? Or, was the reason for his removal more practical, such as finding a lower purchase or rent rate?

Regardless, Spillman showed a great deal of entrepreneurial spirit in his target marketing to the state's legislators. Not only did he mention them specifically in his advertisement, but by advertising in a medium used by those men,and in both main political parties' papers, he increased his chances of reaching those potential customers.   

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