Patrick Robinson
Rick Cook isn't really psychic, he just likes the attention the sign brings. But he does say he knows the outcome of every sports contest. "It's the team with the most points." As the Psychic Barber he has just moved his shop to 6016 California Ave SW and opened on Dec. 11.

The Psychic Barber looks forward (and back); Rick Cook opens in a new location

When Rick Cook began his career in hair styling had no idea what his future would hold. He was trained as a genuine stylist and early on he did it all, from colors to curls. Some 36 years later he has settled in as a men's only traditional barber but with a tongue in cheek and totally unique marketing identity.

Cook ran "The Classic Barbershop" at 4704 California Ave. SW in the junction for many years (through five locations and incarnations) finally electing to move south of the junction to 5251 1/2 California Ave. SW nearly 20 years ago where he shared half the building. First with a man who "basically ran a garage sale for a year" and later with others but his last building mate would set his fate, at least as far as his business name goes.

That was "a family of gypsies," Cook said and shortly after arriving they put a large, glowing white sign that read "Psychic" in the front window. Even though he had been there for fifteen years, "Within three weeks I had begun telling people I was in the building next to the big 'Psychic' sign, Cook explained, but then he had a vision. He recognized that the attention getting sign was a great idea. So within a month he consciously chose to match it, in color, lettering and size. He knew in advance that the two signs would read, side by side as "Psychic - Barber."

And true to his prediction, business improved markedly. But Cook insists he has no powers, and does not do readings. It's just a marketing ploy. He does say that he knows the winner of every game however, "it's the team with the most points," he jokes.

That hasn't stopped people from asking him to do readings or make predictions. He politely declines and says dryly, "I had to retire because I couldn't foresee any future in it."

When the psychic moved out they left behind the big sign. The building owner asked Cook if he wanted to buy it. Cook actually declined at that point but later in a business savvy move, got it for a low price. He put both in the same window and his unique marketing identity was fully in place.

When the time came for the building to be sold and torn down, Cook had to move.

On Tuesday Dec. 11 (after some retrofitting) he reopened at 6016 California Ave SW. The new shop is pretty spartan. There are no crystal balls, no incense, no flowing robes, no tarot cards. "It's just a barber shop," Cook said.

He's lived here for 43 years. By his own estimate he's cut men's hair more than 93,000 times. That's a lot of experience and his formula for success is simple. "A lot of guys just want a haircut. They don't want to be inundated with products and sales or on the other end, five minute hair cuts." He currently has a customer base he guesses of more than 500 men.

In a parting word Cook offered a thought about the impending "end of the world" predictions others have made for Dec. 20. "I haven't studied it much but I understand something's going to happen with the rotation of the earth, and the planets align and we're going to lose gravity and everything will fly off the face of the earth. I'm thinking that will be really cool for about the first ten seconds."

So he recommends you get a haircut before the big day. "You want to look good for the hereafter," he said laughing.

You can reach the Psychic Barber, Rick Cook via phone at 206-933-8733 and he only takes cash or checks.

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