ITHACA, NY – Elvir Bahtic, 23, owns a barbershop in Ithaca, but he wants to own the barbershop in Ithaca.
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Bahtic runs the Fine Line Barbershop on Hancock St., which just underwent a major renovation and expansion after four-and-a-half years in business. The expansion included doubling the number of chairs in the shop from two to four, but he doesn’t plan to stop there.
Bahtic says that Ithaca lacks the kind of large, communal barbershops you see in bigger cities, buzzing with conversation between barbers and patrons as well as with electric razors. That’s a niche he’d like to fill. “I’m trying to create the one shop in Ithaca where everybody goes,” he says.
He seems to already have the ingredients for it. Bahtic says his clientele come from all walks of life and all age groups – though college students do make up a sizable chunk. It’s also given him a chance to broaden his skills as a stylist. “That’s one thing I love about it, we do it all here,” he says.
Bahtic, who came to Ithaca with his family at age three as a Bosnian refugee, grew up down the street from where the Fine Line is now. Indicating the store across the street, he says, “I used to come to this P&C to screw around when I was a kid, I would’ve never expected to have a shop here and to create such a following for it.”
Bahtic said he experimented with hair cutting throughout his high school years, using friends, cousins and brothers as guinea pigs. After graduating from Ithaca High School, he spent a brief stint in Rochester to get certified. Then he came back to Ithaca and put the plans in motion to open his shop.
The renovations, which kicked off with the New Year and took about two weeks, brought the Fine Line Barbershop in line with the vision Bahtic had for the shop before he had the money to fulfill it. He said the business had grown quickly over four-and-a-half years and he was getting a steady flow of new clients, so he decided to pull the trigger on the project.
Bahtic says his priority now is to get people working in the two new stations – he currently has one full time and one part time employee. From there, he hopes the business – and its following – will keep growing, until he can fashion it into Ithaca’s premier barbershop.
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