Barbershop confidential: Nelson's Man Cave offers more than just haircuts

by Fiona Terry / 13 December, 2018
Photography by Tim Cuff
Owner Shawn “Stormy” Stormann (left) and nurse partner Carter Stormann by the entrance to the new Caveman Health pod inside the barbershop.

Owner Shawn “Stormy” Stormann (left) and nurse partner Carter Stormann by the entrance to the new Caveman Health pod inside the barbershop.

In Nelson, there’s a place where modern “cavemen” can go to be groomed, chill out to music, and find someone to tell their troubles to.

It’s been seven years since Shawn “Stormy” Stormann opened his Nelson barbershop Stormy’s Man Cave. During that time, he’s developed a loyal clientele who’ve followed him twice to new premises, for the buzz not just of his clippers but also the upbeat vibe.

Located in New York loft-style premises in the city centre, the Cave has become a community space where some customers just come to hang out. The foosball and pool tables have been donated by clients whose wives or partners have banished them from the house, and the chess set and 1950s music from the juke box are popular with those waiting their turn. Now Stormy and his nurse partner Carter Stormann are making a positive impact on their community’s wellbeing, too.

Carter takes a blood-pressure reading. “Men have worse outcomes than women because they don’t tend to get regular health checks or make appointments with their doctor if something’s awry,” he says.

Carter takes a blood-pressure reading. “Men have worse outcomes than women because they don’t tend to get regular health checks or make appointments with their doctor if something’s awry,” he says.

The idea for Caveman Health evolved as Stormy found customers would often open up to him while they were being shorn, but he didn’t have any point of contact for those who needed follow-up help or support.

“People disclose all kinds of things to barbers,” he says. “We wanted to build bridges for guys not addressing things on their own. Barbers aren’t health practitioners, nor do we want to be, and while we’re happy to be an ear, I knew having somebody on hand to refer guys to would be really beneficial.”

The couple – who relocated to Nelson from Maine, USA, 14 years ago – began talking about Carter running a free walk-in men’s health clinic at the barbershop. When the devastating news reached them that a client had committed suicide, it was the spur they needed.

A wall of windows spills light into the loft space of Stormy's Man Cave as barber Kyle Crittenden styles regular customer Sam.

A wall of windows spills light into the loft space of Stormy's Man Cave as barber Kyle Crittenden styles regular customer Sam.

In May, they relocated all six studded-leather barber chairs, including an original 1800s Hercules, to new premises. There, Carter fabricated a pod from recycled pallets and doors to create a “health cave” with three quarter-height walls that give privacy but still allow the atmosphere to permeate. It’s been a resounding success.

“I wanted a space that wasn’t clinical, where blokes would feel comfortable. More like a shed – just one where you have conversations about health,” explains Carter, who is soon to complete a master’s degree as a nurse practitioner, giving him scope closer to that of a GP.  “Men have worse outcomes than women because they don’t tend to get regular health checks or make appointments with their doctor if something’s awry. There’s only so much I can do in a barbershop, but it’s about starting conversations and supporting guys into getting the resources and assessments they need.”

Waiting customers can relax with some games before their turn in the barber chair.

Waiting customers can relax with some games before their turn in the barber chair.

Other clients have offered help for “cavemen” in the form of free gym memberships, health product samples, and discounted services. “It’s surprising the number of people who disappear in for a blood pressure check and then reappear 45 minutes later having discussed all manner of other issues troubling them,” says Stormy. “It’s about breaking down the barriers – whether that’s the expense of GP appointments or the staunchness of the ‘She’ll be right’ attitude.”

*Caveman Health is open on Saturdays from 10am to 2pm, no appointment necessary. To contribute to Caveman Health or find out more, email cavemanhealth@yahoo.com.

This article was first published in the November 2018 issue of North & South.

Follow North & South on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and sign up to the fortnightly email.

Latest

The drama and the trauma behind NZ musician Shayne Carter's rise to the top
107207 2019-06-15 00:00:00Z Music

The drama and the trauma behind NZ musician Shayne…

by Mike White

Shayne Carter’s career has been wild and acclaimed. But his just-released memoir reveals the drama and trauma going on behind the scenes.

Read more
Rare photos of the Straitjacket Fits by Brian Murphy
The Handmaid's Tale is so chilling, you risk hypothermia
107150 2019-06-15 00:00:00Z Television

The Handmaid's Tale is so chilling, you risk hypot…

by Diana Wichtel

Season three of The Handmaid’s Tale packs a punch, despite some implausible scenes, writes Diana Wichtel.

Read more
Christchurch mosque attacks: Accused pleads not guilty to all charges
107204 2019-06-14 00:00:00Z Crime

Christchurch mosque attacks: Accused pleads not gu…

by Anneke Smith

The man accused of the Christchurch terror attacks has pleaded not guilty to all the charges laid against him.

Read more
One thing is certain: Political biffo is unavoidable in NZ Parliament
107183 2019-06-14 00:00:00Z Politics

One thing is certain: Political biffo is unavoidab…

by Bevan Rapson

Despite overdue efforts to improve Parliament's culture, political biffo will always be with us.

Read more
The sweeping proposal to lower speed limits is on the skids – it's a good thing
107144 2019-06-14 00:00:00Z Social issues

The sweeping proposal to lower speed limits is on…

by The Listener

Transport officials’ enthusiasm for a sweeping lowering of speed limits looks set to go the way of the once-proposed ban on cats in dairies.

Read more
Are New Zealand's intelligence agencies watching the right people?
107185 2019-06-14 00:00:00Z Social issues

Are New Zealand's intelligence agencies watching t…

by Phil Pennington

New Zealanders who feel they've done nothing wrong have found themselves under surveillance by the state and say they've been left nervous.

Read more
Never Look Away: A flawed masterpiece about life in WWII-era Germany
107122 2019-06-14 00:00:00Z Movies

Never Look Away: A flawed masterpiece about life i…

by James Robins

Epic drama captures an artist navigating the upheavals of Nazi and post-war Germany.

Read more