“The only way I’d ever have sold my Triumphs was if I got divorced or started a new business.”
It was an impossible decision eventually forced upon Dale Sampey as he took the greatest gamble of his life… fortunately, alongside his wife.
His dream of expanding his gentleman’s barbers business came at a painful personal price with the sale of his beloved Tiger Explorer and Thunderbird.
“I needed some money to buy the barber’s chairs and had committed to a long lease with no break clause for five years, so it was a massive risk,” he said.
Dale had been running a barber’s shop in his hometown of Nuneaton, a quick ride from Triumph HQ in Hinckley, but was always looking for the right opportunity to expand the business.
“I loved the thrill and exhilaration I got from riding and I guess that gave me a taste to be brave and develop the business. I’d been looking for a new location for five years and had almost given up when I saw this place,” he said.
“I was shopping with my wife in Birmingham and saw the shop, realised there was a gap in the market and decided to take the plunge. I got home and realised that the only way I could finance it all was by selling the bikes. I was heartbroken but excited all in one.”
Three years on and still mourning the sale of his bikes, The Barber House in the “buzzy” financial quarter of England’s Second City, is flourishing.
But you won’t hear the traditional opening gambit of “going anywhere nice for your holidays?” at Dale’s second shop, which is now proving itself a cut above the rest in the heart of England.
Because the first thing you’ll see as you wander long-locked through the doors of the Barber House in Birmingham’s financial quarter is a new Triumph Street Twin.
Like the place’s clientele, the bike eye candy has undergone a bit of a makeover, courtesy of a Triumph Scrambler Inspiration kit. The loan bike is some consolation for Dale, who now has his sights firmly set on getting his Triumphs back in some shape or form.
Sometimes you could see people in the queue just gazing at it and wondering what adventures they could have on it away from the rain outside.Dale Sampey
“I’d run a barber shop in Nuneaton near Hinckley for 20 years but was keen to take the next step on the adventure. It was heart-wrenching to sell my bikes because I’d always thought the only way that would happen is if I got divorced or started a new business,” he said.
“I’ve always had Triumphs but came to riding quite late and really wished I’d discovered it sooner. I started with a Tiger 955 when I was in my late 20s and loved that bike.”
He added: “I rode it through summer and winter that first year and only got rained on about four times. Obviously there was something magical about it. Then I got a Tiger 1050 before moving on to the two that had to sell to take the next step.”
Within months of opening, 41-year-old Dale set tongues wagging when he pitched up with a Bonneville to take pride of place alongside the gents’ pomade on the traditional black and white chequered floor.
“It was a real talking point as soon as anyone walked in for a cut. I used to chat with customers about their holidays, but now it’s all about what bikes they ride and what adventures they’ve had,” he said.
“Sometimes you could see people in the queue just gazing at it and wondering what adventures they could have on it away from the rain outside.”
If the Bonneville drew admiring glances, then the new Street Twin has taken the adulation to a whole new level.
“We have the Scrambler kit which gives the Twin an even more edgy, retro and cool look, which is the kind of vibe we’re going for in the salon. We’re getting a lot of people asking where they can get hold of one,” said Dale.
“I’ve been so busy with the business that I haven’t had a chance to ride much, but now it’s established I’ve got my eye on a new Triumph very soon.”