Ruthie Boirie has been cutting the hair of Park Slope residents at her small, eponymous shop for 20 years. At Ruthie’s Neighborhood Barber Shop, located at 66 Saint Marks Avenue (between 5th and 6th Avenues), Boirie provides meticulous haircuts with finesse and sends off happy customers with a warm hug.
Boirie has been cutting hair in Brooklyn for 35 years. Her storefront often captures the attention of passersby with its rows of vintage toys displayed in the window.
A menagerie she’s accumulated since childhood, the collection includes newer additions donated by clients who have grown up with Boirie cutting their hair over the years. “The neighborhood is awesome. The customers are awesome. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here,” she said one weekday afternoon between haircuts.
Now Boirie is reaching out to her neighbors and customers for assistance. Jordan Martin and Lenni Yesner have set up a GoFundMe page on Boirie’s behalf to help the small business owner offset some financial setbacks.
A quote from a longtime client on the GoFundMe page describes Boirie as “fun to talk to, multi-talented and very welcoming,” and continues, “not just one of the best barbers I’ve ever encountered, but also one of the best HUMANS I’ve ever encountered.”
Boirie explained that after her mother passed away six years ago, she was left with her two-family house in East New York. The mortgage on the house, rent on her shop, and other expenses have become too much for her to shoulder on her own, so she is asking for support to help get her back on her feet.
Martin met Boirie at Ginger’s Bar (363 5th Avenue between 5th and 6th Streets) where the latter was studying for her GED. The two struck up a conversation about Boirie’s classes and Martin soon began tutoring her. Martin calls Boirie a “total sweetheart” and adds that she’s an “active and conscious elder in so many communities.”
At 69, the hardworking Boirie is the sole worker in her shop, doing the cutting and cleaning herself and even building the fixtures—putting her carpentry skills to good use.
Martin adds that she is “very humble” as well as “independent and very self-possessed, having built so much of her life and business from scratch.” After leaving high school at 16, Boirie worked packing boxes in the factories formerly on Atlantic Avenue then became a nurse’s aide for 14 years before finding her calling in the hair trade.
A natural storyteller, Boirie has written about her childhood as well as her experience trying to earn her GED. She’s also penned an appreciation to her loyal customers that she’s posted on her Facebook page. A consummate professional, her motto is, “You’re not leaving my chair until I know you’re looking good and satisfied!”
Seeing the GoFundMe page gradually moving towards its goal, Martin finds it inspiring “to see how much [Boirie] has meant to people.” In the spirit of the holidays, consider helping out a good neighbor in need. Or, go visit Ruthie’s Neighborhood Barber Shop and get your hair cut for $26. As the sign on the shop window reads, “Everyone welcome.”