Meet Herman James, the Central Park Barber Who Doesn’t Charge for Outdoor Haircuts

Herman James began providing free haircuts last year when the pandemic began.

Herman James is a licensed barber from Queens, New York.

In May 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Herman brought his tools to Central Park, set up a chair, and proceeded to give the gift of haircuts.

"Nobody was interested in being inside the shops," Herman explained. "They felt more comfortable being outside because there was less of a risk of catching COVID."

So Herman went outside and cut hair regardless of the person's age, gender, or ability to pay. 

"Somebody baked me a cake once and brought that over," he revealed. "I know a lot of people were financially impacted by the pandemic. I didn't feel a need to charge them at all."

"Me understanding the impact that a haircut has and the effect that it has on a person when it comes to their work ethic, their self-confidence, and their mental state."

The Central Park barber says he will continue to cut hair on a pay-what-you-can-scale, even after the pandemic. 

"Just being out here amongst nature, seeing the seasons change. It's a very tranquil feeling of serenity being here in Central Park. It's been a real blessing and a joy being able to work here," Herman notes.

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