by Barbara Sherf
For years, friends of Flourtown resident Michael Schildt have called him Schildty, so when he decided to open what he terms “barbershop meets salon,” he called it Schildty’s Hairstyling.
Located directly across from Fatty’s Bar and Grill on Willow Grove Avenue in Wyndmoor, Schildt recently installed a faux fire hydrant out front to allow customers to tie their dogs up while they get their hair cut. A longtime dog lover, he and his wife currently have three dogs, an English bulldog named Murdoc and two pugs that go by Mack and Mojo.
Inside the one-time coffee shop, Schildt, 41, welcomes customers to one of two “Cadillac” of barber chairs he secured on E-bay. Once he won the online auction, he borrowed a pickup truck and drove to North Carolina and back in a single day to secure the chairs. The Oreland native, who admits he is “good with his hands,” reupholstered the chairs and did all of the intricate glass tile work, painting and décor himself, creating a comfortable setting for walk-in and regular customers. He even has an old-fashioned barber pole in the shop and a nostalgic sign out front.
Schildt, whose late grandfather was a barber in Port Richmond, has old black and white photos of him hanging on the wall at the entrance and behind the reception desk. “I’m told I look just like him. His name was Michael too,” but they called him Mikey. Schildt had been let go from a15-year position supervising the maintenance staff at Springfield School District when the district contracted with an outside janitorial service. He had always moonlighted as a barber and decided to look for a space to open up shop. Schildt, who is a state-licensed cosmetologist, has a temporary barber’s license and is studying for his state exams.
“I guess my father gave me a good work ethic,” said Schildt. “He was a Marine and worked his way up from knocking on doors as a debt collector to senior vice president of finance in a 36-year career with General Electric Capital. I know he’d be proud of this. He passed away 12 years ago, and when I mentioned before he passed that I thought of becoming a barber, he said that it’s a nice clean trade. I’ll never forget him telling me that.” His mother, Phyllis, still lives in Oreland, and his two older sisters, Kristen and Stacey, and their families live in the area as well.
“I’m a highly motivated individual, and I find it very rewarding to work with my hands. If I wasn’t doing this I’d be a sculptor, and in a way that is what I do with hair,” he noted.
Jamie Forster Davis, who had gone to high school with Schildt, was exiting the shop with her son, Jack, who had just gotten his hair cut on a recent Saturday afternoon. They were both pleased with the experience. “He took his time and checked in to see if we were OK with what he was doing. We’ll be back,” said Davis, whose son was pulling her out the door to go to Fatty’s for lunch.
Formerly home to a coffee shop, the space had been vacant for two years, and Mike saw the possibilities of “what it could be.” Schildt hopes to give back to the Springfield community “that has given him so much.” He plans to give free haircuts at Springfield Township’s Community Day this September.
“I’d like to sponsor some of the local sports organizations and get my name and trade out there in the public eye. It’s how I can continue to give back to the community, as I did when I worked for the school district,” said Mike, who hopes that residents and those attending the Springfield schools recognize his name and support him.
Schildt credits his sisters and his wife, Kimberly, for helping him start the business. He and Kimberly dated in high school but had lost track of each other. “I had been moonlighting as a barber, and a co-worker of hers took a photo of her son in my barber chair after his haircut. The co-worker showed it to Kim to show her how big her son was getting. I was in the photo, and she recognized me and asked for my phone number. We married three years ago, just a year after we reconnected. It was meant to be. If I hadn’t been cutting hair I would have never hooked back up with my true love, so I owe a lot to my trade.”
While Mike primarily works with male clientele, he also does work on shorter women’s styles. For more information, e-mail email@example.com or call 215-280-3002 or stop by 811 E. Willow Grove Ave. (at the corner of Traymore).