The philosopher Seneca said luck is where opportunity meets preparation. For Charlotte, North Carolina, barber Shaun “Lucky” Corbett, his golden opportunity paved the way for what would become Walmart‘s first Black-owned and operated barbershop.
On Sept. 26, Corbett was joined by dozens of community supporters eager to witness the moment he opened the doors of Da Lucky Spot Barbershop at the Walmart on Wilkinson Boulevard. The grand opening festivities were replete with balloons, laughter and plenty of smiles as folks gathered to celebrate the accomplished businessman.
Corbett, 40, has established himself as a leader in the local community over the last several years with his charitable give-back programs. As a licensed barber, he envisioned his shop as a space offering fellowship and suppport, especially for the neighborhood’s youth.
The road hasn’t always been smooth, however, and like most business owners, Corbett relied on his faith to get him through the rough spots.
“How I landed it was never giving up, seeing the vision [and] just working diligently,” he told Atlanta Black Star via phone. “Development is the main thing … understanding and being intentional about conversations I have when I have the opportunity to help.”
Corbett got his start in 2005 after enrolling in the No Grease barber school, the Charlotte Agenda reported. He spent his weekends cutting heads at the barber shop and served up slices at a local pizzeria to cover his hefty tuition — $10,000 to be exact.
By the next year, he was a full-time barber with his own chair. Corbett was eventually able to open his first Lucky Spot shop on North Tyrone Street in 2010.
The space quickly became more than just a barbershop. Corbett hosted a number of community programs, including his handing out of turkeys to families in need each Thanksgiving, after-school tutoring sessions for the kids and a backpack drive for students headed back to school in the fall. The local leader is perhaps best known for his acclaimed Cops & Barbers program, which aims to build trust between police and the communities they serve.
Corbett’s work with Charlotte-Mecklenburg police earned him recognition from the Obama administration, and he was invited to the White House to share his program with other groups from across the U.S.
His civic engagement soon caught the attention of Michelle Belaire, senior director of community relations for Walmart. Belaire was in town on work building relationships between the company’s Charlotte-area stores and the surrounding neighborhoods when someone told her about “Lucky.”
The two met and formed a fast friendship. On a visit from Arkansas, Belaire met up to speak with Corbett, who later voiced interest in opening his own shop in Walmart. Belaire acknowledged it’d be a tough feat, but she was on his side.
When she noticed a vacancy at the local Walmart, Corbett was the first person she called. He wanted the space.
Special thanks to Walmart for supporting us and partnering with us on this leg of our victory lap! Today was nothing…
It would take multiple tries — and denials — before Corbett would land the space for his business. The process of inking a leasing agreement with the retail giant his spot took several weeks, he said.
“The pits of it — there’s just always going to be stuff in your way to keep you from being successful,” Corbett told ABS. “And I think that’s when your faith in God and all that comes into play. I think that’s the key.”
Despite the obstacles, the seasoned barber said this journey has been more than rewarding.
“Just being able to impact lives and create job opportunities,” he added.
Kate Mora, Regional General Manger for Walmart in North Carolina, spoke of the positive impact Corbett’s Cops & Barbers program has had on the community.
“We’re excited to support the great work Shaun and his team are doing here in Charlotte by having them become a part of our in-store Walmart family,” said Mora, according to Spectrum News. “We hope [the] increased exposure and customer traffic of being in a local Walmart store will help them spread their message, mission and impact even further across the city.”
At his grand opening ceremony, the retail giant presented the barber with a $25,000 check to go towards the program.
Corbett also has a scholarship program that sends young men to barber school. In it, they not only learn the importance of financial literacy and civic engagement, but are guaranteed a job.
So where does he see Da Lucky Spot in the next five years? Corbett said he one day hopes to have his barbershop in multiple Walmart stores across the nation.
Watch more in the video below.