After halting its franchising platform during the COVID-19 lockdowns, The Gents Place is back in business.
The Gents Place offers men’s hair, grooming, and spa services with a top-shelf beverage in a luxury club atmosphere geared for business networking or just relaxing. In addition, the business drives several initiatives to support those in need in the local community.
“In 2016, we started opening franchises across the country,” founder Ben Davis said. “We stopped during the pandemic, but we started franchising again in 2023.”
Two of the three new locations are in Prosper and Celina.
“We’ve got a franchise group in the Prosper area,” Davis said. “Two businessmen and their wives are planning on running the business again. One is an existing franchisee, and the other is a financial adviser and wealth manager. Both have great business experience, and they signed up for two openings.”
Davis said the North Texas franchises are expected to open by the summer’s end.
“And the other one is owned by a couple in the Midland-Odessa area. The site has already been selected and leased.”
Davis, 40, founded The Gents Place in 2008 and has since repositioned the company as a “barber and business club.”
“We started two weeks before Lehman Brothers collapsed,” he said. “It was an absolutely crazy time to start a business. We got an SBA loan right before the recession and opened the first location in Frisco, just north of where The Star is. Our second location was in Kansas City, and the third was in Preston Hollow, which was substantially demolished by the 2019 tornado.”
The Gents Place also has 10 other locations in Illinois, Nevada, Arkansas, and Texas.
“We partnered with Emmitt Smith, who came on as a business partner, and Jerry Jones, and we started franchising,” Davis said. “We started the nonprofit Operation Gentlemen. The initial focus was running the suit drive and having all these affluent, successful gentlemen come into The Gents Place wearing nice business suits. We’d take gently used clothing they had and get it to our veterans.”
The company has put on the event every September since 2016.
“My dad was a veteran, my grandfather was a veteran, and my brother was a veteran,” Davis said. “I’m a military brat. I decided to make an impact with homeless veterans. You see, anywhere from one in five to one in three homeless people are veterans of some sort. We decided to support them through membership programs annually.”
The Texas Tribune reported in January 2023 that Texas and California have the two largest populations of veterans experiencing homelessness in the U.S. However, between 2007 and 2020, the number of veterans considered homeless in Texas dropped from 5,527 to 1,948, according to the Tribune, citing data from the National Alliance to End Homelessness.
Still, overall homelessness in Texas has increased in recent years, with polling conducted by The Dallas Express finding that more than three-quarters of Dallas residents remain dissatisfied with the levels of homelessness, vagrancy, and panhandling in their neighborhoods and throughout the city.
“With a membership, you pay upfront for a year and receive a bunch of services,” Davis said. “With every annual membership we sell, we fund a meal to a homeless vet. We also have a new guest offer, so if it’s your first visit, you get half-off, and we feed a homeless vet with that.”
Davis said The Gents Place exceeded the 40,000 mark in meals served for its Meals to Homeless Veterans initiative.
“Our goal is to get to 100,000, and we believe we are going to hit that.”
Furthermore, the company’s Haircuts for Our Homeless program provides free services through licensed hairstylists and barbers.
“My wife, Lauren, who ran for Dallas County judge, had an idea six and a half years ago to connect our team members to the community,” Davis said. “They have a skillset, and they wanted to help but didn’t know how to do that. So, we got the idea of working with Austin Street Center near downtown Dallas to provide haircuts on the second Sunday of the month.”
Davis said the project has increased in popularity, especially among those outside the area.
“It’s opened to the entire industry. More often than not, people who aren’t affiliated with The Gents Place travel from other parts of the state to come to our event.”
The Davises have three children and live in Preston Hollow.
Relatedly, local stakeholders are working to bring the “one-stop-shop” homeless services model used by Haven for Hope in San Antonio to Dallas. The model, which centralizes homeless services at a single emergency housing campus, has polled favorably among city residents. However, it is unclear whether City officials will support the effort. The model has been credited with a 77% reduction in unsheltered homelessness in downtown San Antonio.
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