I thought I would post my thoughts on Merz Apothecary’s second annual “Great Shave” in Chicago last week. Unfortunately I was too busy to take pictures or video while there, but plenty of other people did: Merz hired a photographer and videographer and I saw a bunch of other people taking snapshots so I imagine images and posts will be popping up in the shave-o-sphere over the next week or so. Hopfully I can link a few here on Sharpologist.
I showed up at the Dank Haus in the early afternoon for my presentation (“Take Charge of Your Lather”). It was held concurrently with Lynn Abrams’ (Straight Razor Place & Straight Razor Designs) presentation on straight razor honing and stropping. I wish the two presentations weren’t at the same time–some people had to choose between attending my session and attending Lynn’s, and I think most who made that choice chose Lynn’s (I can’t blame them though. Hell, I wanted to see his presentation). I spoke to about a dozen people about the ingredients that make up lather, lathering different ways (bowl, face, palm), short-cuts and tricks, etc. Interestingly, there were four professional barbers in attendance! Merz allowed two hours for my presentation. I was kind of worried that I would run out of things to say pretty early, but between demos, Q&A, and general discussion we actually ran a bit long.
The main event started at 6pm. There must have been about 300 people there at its peak. Some of these who were also at last year’s event were “underwhelmed” at the venue (though I think it’s kind of unfair to compare the Dank Haus to the Palmer House) and there were some minor glitches with acoustics and food. But all-in-all everyone seemed to have a good time!
There were vendors showing their wares, including some shaving heavy-hitters from (literally) around the world: Andrew French (Owner of Castle Forbes) and his wife came in from Scotland, Christian Mueller (owner of Muhle) from Germany, and Neil Jagger (owner of Edwin Jagger) from England (I somehow missed visiting with Neil, though I’m told he was there!). Some people closer to home included Howie Woda (Parker/Taconic), Todd Fisher (CEO Truefitt & Hill North America), Scott (and his wife) from Captain’s Choice aftershave, and reps from Caswell-Massey, Jack Black, Chris from Dreadnaught (Bluebeard’s Revenge in the UK), Feather and more…! Caswell-Massey was showing their new line of shaving products–I hope they’ve improved them from the last time I tried CM a few years ago. I’m going to pick up some of the new stuff and give it a try….
There was also a lady giving chair massages, a couple barbers (including Jess and her gang from Stag Barbershop in Milwaukee) were doing straight razor shaves, and a couple local restaurants were giving away food and munchies (Chicago-style hot dogs, appetizers, little desserts).
I met a lot of great people–many from the various online forums (Wicked Edge, The Shave Nook, B&B, etc.), some etailers there in an “unofficial” capacity (italianbarber.com, Men-U USA, WS Badger, etc.), and even a couple of wholesale distributors and venture-capitalists (who would like to “fly under the radar,” asking me not to mention them by name but who offered me anything in their stocklists for review). I even got my own t-shirt, courtesy of shaveology!
There were a bunch of give-aways during the evening and everyone got a bag of goodies (shown at the beginning of this post) that probably cost more than the entry fee:
- Small samples of Captain’s Choice Bay Rum aftershave, Caswell-Massey hand & body lotion; two Muhle aftershave lotions (sandalwood & sea buckhorn), Ursa Major (shave cream, face balm, and face wash), Edwin Jagger (pre-shave lotion, shave cream, aftershave).
- Large samples of Taylor’s of Old Bond St. Sandalwood shave cream, Jack Black Beard Lube, Badger hair oil, Kell’s original shave soap (Ultra Aloe Blend), and Trumper’s cologne (mine was Curzon–apparently there were a variety distributed).
- Full size products including Underburg after meal bitters (88 proof, wheee!), Dr. Hunter’s body cleanser, Blade Glide shaving lotion, Razorpit shaving foam, Osma styptic pencil, Kent pocket comb.
- And a teeny-tiny Muhle brush!
(I understand there were a few variations to the goodie bags but there was still quite a bit of stuff!)
Overall I think a good time was had by all! Merz was pretty confident that they will continue to hold the event, having learned from last year and this year that it’s possible to host a bunch of crazy shaving enthusiasts.
Did you attend The Great Shave 2012? What did you think of it?