Army veteran opens Vicinia Barbershop in downtown Dayton

An Army veteran has made downtown Dayton the home for his new barbershop and wants his business to be a neighborhood gathering spot.

Dayton native Rylan Williams opened his barber business, Vicinia Barbershop, downtown earlier this year, and he said his career is due in part to his time spent serving in the U.S. Army.

Located in the Manhattan Building, at 601 E. Third St., Vicinia Barbershop is situated in the lobby area of the building’s first floor.

After entering the Army at age 19, Williams served for a total of 10 years, which included four deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was during this time he first began to hone his craft.

“I cut hair in the military, as well,” he said, adding that he learned by watching YouTube videos. “It was trial and error, and if I messed up, they could just shave their head. We were in the middle of nowhere, in a small village, so we had nobody to impress.”

When Williams completed his time in the Army at age 29, he initially worked jobs in landscaping and bartending before deciding to go to barber school at Ron West Barber College.

“The guys who were cutting my hair down in Cincinnati were like, ‘Why don’t you go to barber school? You already do it anyways,’” he said. “So, I went to school and opened up a shop in Kettering Tower.”

Williams opened the shop just before the onset of the pandemic, which made things difficult. Thanks to pandemic-related shutdowns and being a new business, Williams said he was never able to build up his clientele. After a year and a half, he decided to move locations and start fresh.

“I wanted to be downtown and in a place where it was still building, and (this area) is going to explode,” Williams said of the Third Street location, which shares a block with the Steam Plant event venue and Sueno restaurant.

Williams said he chose the name Vicinia because it means “neighborhood” in Latin.

“This is a shop for everybody. It’s a shop for all walks of life,” he said. “This is going to be a vibrant neighborhood, and there are only two (barber) shops in the area — Hicks’ and myself — so there’s a community to be served. This isn’t just my shop. This is the neighborhood’s shop and all are welcome.”

Hours of operation are Tuesday through Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Appointments can be made online by visiting Vicinia Barbershop on Instagram.

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