Barbershop Owner, Pastor
Photographed by Jerry Zolynsky
Steven Trachsel maintains a highly authentic existence. What this means is he walks the walk. As owner of the Barber Pole, one of Birmingham’s oldest barbershops, Trachsel makes sure that old-school options such as hot shaves and shoeshines are available.
As a pastor of Grace Apostolic Church in Clawson, he follows his scriptural teachings by ensuring the feeding of the needy with the services of the church’s food pantry, which sometimes feeds up to 60 families each month.
Finally, he has been married for 14 years to Dana, and they have three children: Lincoln, 9, Cecilia, 7, and Cash, 4.
Trachsel got his start as a barber after he bought a barbering kit at Meijer, a pretty sound investment. Today, he’s willingly and happily ensconced in the community where he’s chosen to work, pastor and raise his family.
How did you become a barber?
The reason I’m a barber is because of my ministry. At 19, I became youth pastor of Grace Apostolic Church in Clawson. Having just come home from Bible college, I needed a flexible job.
While in Bible school, I thought about barbering, so I went to Meijer, got a haircutting kit that came with a video and watched it. Then I called a buddy to come over and gave my first haircut. Pretty soon, I was cutting all the guys’ hair. Of course, I went to barber school as well.
I started working for Sue White at the Barber Pole in 2001. She was the daughter of the original owners, who opened the shop in 1949. I bought the shop from her in 2007, making me the shop’s first owner outside the original family.
Does the shop continue to thrive?
Yes, it’s been great. Even though we bought it in 2007 in the midst of the economic downturn, our business still has increased every year. We have great clientele and a great location (164 S. Old Woodward, Birmingham). Our shop is true to its roots: We still offer hot shaves, a shoeshine service and great haircuts at a great price. We’re the real deal when it comes to old-fashioned barbershops.
What about your ministry?
I became a senior pastor at Grace Apostolic Church in 2011. I’m a preacher and a teacher. I head up activities, oversee the daily business of the church. I work both jobs during the week, with Monday my only day off.
When did you start the food pantry?
In 2012, we began Clawson Food Pantry. I had an idea to start a food pantry for the city. See, I want to be in the community. I want the church to get out of the church, to go into the community and make an impact. I just built a house in Clawson so I could live in the city where I pastor.
In 2013, Linda Ingersoll started to take over the food pantry for us. She’s done a great job. It takes place on the third Monday of every month and feeds 50 to 60 families, and we are certified through Gleaners.
We buy the food from Gleaners, and we also get great donations. Panera Bread donates bread every Monday. Local Clawson schools will donate. We’ll take donations from anywhere we can find them. Howard and Howard Attorneys PLLC in Royal Oak has donated to us the last three years and is our biggest financial supporter.
Why do you do what you do?
Well, I’m 38 in August; I’m in my fourth year as senior pastor with 16 years at the same church, counting youth and senior pasturing.
Jesus fed people physically and spiritually. A lot of families in Michigan have faced financial bumps in the road. Many people are still affected by the economic hardships of recent time. Our goal is to help people who are working a job, trying to make ends meet.
We have to feed them physically — to be more than a church —by reaching out to people who have needs. We’re all in this together, and we’re all here to help each other out. NS
For more information, visit thebarberpolebirmingham.com and gacclawson.org.
— Interviewed by Nick Moretti