Tucked in the cuts of Tukwila, Washington is one of The 206 and Sea-Tac’s best kept secrets – if you like to stay fresh and fly that is. You can’t go just anywhere to get your hair did the right way, so when Marquise Willis and his partners Alex and Phil Barrera decided they were up to the challenge, did the research, due diligence and handled the executables to open Emperors Barbershop at the premeir mall in Washington state (and the Pacific Northwest), Southcenter, they accomplished the unthinkable.
Most of the fresh, fly and fashion-forward hair shops (that are not national chains) seem to be located in random neighhorhood locations – which is definitley dope, but location is where its at for any business says, Marquise Willis who handles the day-to-day operations at Emperors. “I used to work in Sea-Tac Mall (Federal Way area) and I always heard from people and wondered myself, why no one had a shop in Southcenter – so I got tired of hearing that myself and went and asked the management (at Westfield Mall) about the details. My ownership team and I went in on this venture – the numbers looked good, so we made it happen.”
With last fall’s opening on September 1, 2016 Emperors opened with good support and maintains ten seats and stylists/barbers. Wills is pleased with the atmosphere, customer service and accompanying profit-based success thus far, stating, “Business has been good and has exceeded my expectations… Going in, I had my doubts, but then again it’s about location.” And among all the malls in the Pacific Northwest, few can claim a better strategic location than the great Southcenter Mall operated by Westfields and located conveniently in between the urban centers of Seattle and Tacoma, less than half-a-minute off of Interstate 5. That’s a look that any business catering to the public wants.
So, what is the atmosphere, vibe, service and priceline actually hittin’ fo? “Our rates are affordable and competitive – what we are pricing is going to give you a great cut and we have exceeded peoples’ standards and get good reviews”, says Willis. But life can’t always be so perfect, can it? “We’ve had mostly good reviews, but you can’t please everbybody all of the time, so we just go about doing our best to please each emperor and empress who takes a seat” Willis and his team of stylists and barbers place a premium on service and environment, along with delivery of dope hairstyles. “I would describe Emperors atmosphere as family-friendly with a laid-back, barbershop feeling where people can congregate.. and all are welcome – it reflects in our customers and the staff who serve them”, says Willis.
With a diverse staff delivering the most popular and diverse hairstyles (mohawk, hightop, beards, Combovers, undercuts, Afro Fades and tapers) and simultaneously serving the ladies and longer hair styles (Dreads, braids, chemical services, cuts, colors, extensions and more) Emperors is one of the independent businesses that relies on demands public support – and the barber game is a competitive one. Nearing its anniversary in the fall of 2017, Willis is optimistic and confident about Emperors’ chances of leaving a legacy, especially with the relationship between staff and customers.
“We are Emperor’s because, when you sit down, it’s a throne and our customers are the emperors – we want to give them a great experience”, says Willis.
436 Southcenter Parkway, Tukwila, WA 98188
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Jose S. Gutierrez Jr.