The Members Only Barber Shop in Santa Barbara seems to have been replaced with a candy house for the holidays.
Brightly colored confectioneries and a polar bear dressed in rubber duck pajamas have overtaken the tiny barber shop at 27½ E. Victoria St. downtown.
While the exterior seems to be a child's candy-coated dream come true, the interior holds its own treasures.
The space isn't large enough to fit four people. However, owner Henry Franco — just Franco to his clients — has used up every wall space and surface to reflect the shop's and his own history.
White, porcelain shaving mugs signed by the members of the barber shop take up the right wall and some space in the other walls. Plaques from the Downtown Organization's holiday decorating contest hang above a small armchair in front of the window in the front of the shop.
"Did you see his medals?" asks MOBS guest Gary Wood, pointing to the corner behind the door as Franco flits about him with scissors. He was referring to Franco's medals and numbers from his marathon-running days.
"I was actually thinking of training for another one," said Franco, staring at the medals.
As the two launched into conversation about training for a marathon and Franco's plans for his next marathon, which is supposed to literally cross countries, it is apparent that Franco, while proud of his work and achievements, is always trying to challenge himself. He applies the credence to his holiday decorating.
"As an artist, I'm always trying to top myself," Franco said. "There are certain pieces you can get mileage out of, like the giant polar bear of course, but I am always looking for that 'wow' from people."
Certainly, Franco has received many 'wows' over the years. His work has appeared on many local blogs, and he has received awards from Santa Barbara's Downtown Organization for his decorations.
However, Franco insists that it is not just for the "wow" or the awards.
"You know, there were a lot of family businesses that were on State Street, and they all used to decorate their window displays for the holidays," Franco said. "What do you see now? Sale signs."
He recalls the Christmas trees that used to appear on State Street during the holidays, a tradition long gone.
"It doesn't look like Christmas anymore," Franco said. "I just want to bring back some of that joy."
Of course, this is not the first time that the Members Only Barber Shop has received an extreme makeover. Some of Franco's best-known creations include the iconic polar bear chilling on an igloo, as well as a gingerbread house.
"I was thinking of doing the gingerbread house this year. So I started getting out all of the stuff I used for that year and took a look at what I had," Franco said of this year's creation. "The candies were just so colorful and fun and it popped."
While Franco is already thinking of what to do for next year, he is enjoying the smiles and picture-taking from passersby.
"It's all about seeing that Christmas joy," Franco said.