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Man who overcame homelessness and addiction now gives free haircuts to people in need

'It makes them feel better,' he said, speaking from his own past experiences on the street. 'Hopefully it gives them a little inspiration.'

Man who overcame homelessness and addiction now gives free haircuts to people in need
Representative Cover Image Source: Getty Images/Manu Vega

A haircut at the Little Barbershop of Horrors might sound a bit daunting to many at first. However, for Daryl Bidner, it was a clear decision to name his new business after his favorite childhood film, 1986's "Little Shop of Horrors." Speaking to CTV News about his thought process at the time, he said: "You got Bob's Barbershop, Joe's Barbershop. I wanted (my shop) to be different." Although, as a teenager, he'd never imagined that he'd one day be running a one-room barbershop with a big-screen TV and drawings of classic tattoos decorating the walls, Bidner had always had a knack for hairstyling.


"I used to be able to cut my own friends' hair," he recalled. "I'd do Mohawks, shave heads." Around the same time, Bidner hit a rough patch and went through a difficult phase from which not many could return. He dropped out of school, struggled with substance abuse and eventually ended up homeless. Although he tried his best to get back on track and get healthier, nothing seemed to work for years. His efforts seemed hopeless until one night, on a complete whim, he decided to get a tattoo.

"I came home and didn't use that night," he recalled with a smile. "I felt great. I was stoked to look in the mirror and look at my new tattoo." Stoked to have finally found something that helped control his addiction, Bidner decided to make the best of his unexpected discovery and started getting new ink every couple of days. By the time tattoo number 40 adorned his skin, he says he'd stopped using. "Some people need (Narcotics Anonymous), some people need (Alcoholics Anonymous)," Bidner shared. "Tattoos seemed to work for me." Inspired by how getting inked turned his life around, he briefly considered becoming a tattoo artist.

However, he soon realized that he'd already discovered his true passion several years ago when, as a teenager, he expressed his creativity by cutting his friends' hair. Armed with this knowledge, Bidner started training to become a barber. "I'd never had much education," he said, explaining how intimidating it was enrolling in barbering school after failing to finish high school. "I knew if I didn't put in the work, I'm not going to be in the place I want to be." Determined to make something of himself, Bidner did the work, paid his dues, and about three years ago, opened his own one-chair business.

"I'm trying to keep growing," said Bidner, who has been drug-free for more than five years. "Trying to be the best person I can be." For this inspiring hairdresser, being the best version of himself includes giving back to the community by helping those who are in similar situations to what he was in a few years ago. Aside from supporting local bands by playing their records in his shop, Bidner also offers free haircuts to people in a nearby homeless shelter every month. "It makes them feel better," he said, speaking from his own past experiences on the street. "Hopefully it gives them a little inspiration."

Although the name of his shop was inspired by a movie musical about surviving a carnivorous plant, the Little Barbershop of Horrors is proving itself to be a real-life testament to overcoming adversity and thriving with creativity. "Becoming a barber changed my life completely," Bidner said with a smile. "It's the best thing I've ever done."

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