As a part of its ongoing commitment to support local communities, Walmart partnered with Chicagoland native, Larry E. Roberts, Jr., to open his newest barbershop location, inside the Pullman Walmart Supercenter. This is the second location Roberts has opened inside a Walmart since 2021. Roberts’ first partnership with Walmart was at the Chatham Walmart Supercenter at 83rd and Stewart Ave.
The Pullman Supercenter ceremonial ribbon cutting on Thursday, September 8, was attended by 9th Ward Alderman Anthony Beale and a group of students from Roberts’ Barber College.
“With the success of Larry’s Barber Maximus in the Chatham community, Walmart is pleased to again collaborate with Larry’s team to add a second location in the Pullman Walmart store,” senior manager of corporate communications at Walmart, Felicia McCranie, said.
“This added service helps our customers live better, providing them another convenient service in the Pullman store.”
With approximately 4,700 Walmart stores in the United States, Walmart envisions its community partnership jobs will provide careers to local community members. Upon opening, the Pullman Walmart Supercenter created 400 jobs, of which 40 percent went to residents in the 9th Ward.
Following Roberts’ speech at the ribbon cutting, 9th Ward Alderman Anthony Beale spoke of the challenges of bringing a Walmart Supercenter into the Pullman community in 2014.
“This is a testament to why we fight to empower people in our community, and to breed more entrepreneurs from within,” Beale said.
“Larry has always been part of the community and has never turned his back on our community. He’s giving back the same thing his father and mother gave him. He’s teaching people how to fish, and that’s why I’m excited.”
Roberts started his career as a hairstylist in his parents’ basement when he was 13 years old. At 18, he completed barber school and opened his first hair-cutting shop, Larry’s Barber Shop, in Matteson, Illinois. In 2004, he relocated his shop to the South side of Chicago and opened his first barber college.
In 2010, Roberts went a step further, opening a barber college inside the Cook County Department of Corrections. Excluding Roberts’ barber college in the Cook County Jail, he has four locations throughout Illinois.
Within the next 12-to-24 months, the entrepreneur plans to open three new shops inside Walmart stores around Chicago.
“Seeing somebody from Chicago, like Larry, who is so invested in his community and seeing him working with a company like Walmart, gives people hope,” said Walmart’s personal care and retail spokesperson, Andrea Harvey.
“It all goes into the pot of showing how we care about those in the community.”
Larry’s Barber College identifies and develops new generations of professional hairstylists in underserved communities. His programs provide a positive and professional environment for career development, mentorship, hair styling, and cosmetology training. To date, his programs have helped between 800 and 1,000 students become professionally licensed barbers.
To ensure that students leave Larry’s Barber College without student loans from the $17,290 general tuition, Roberts created the Data Foundation Incorporated non-profit organization. His 501(c)(3) provides students and correctional facility inmates with financial resources to pursue education at Larry’s Barber Schools.
Data Foundation Inc., also leans into mentorship by providing resumé writing, job placement assistance, Drug and Alcohol Prevention/Recovery, GED assistance, and free services for senior citizens.
Tyrone Hemingway, 39, graduated from Larry’s Barber College in 2017 after being released from jail. He credits the college with giving him the opportunity to turn his life around, enabling him to become a recognized business professional and eventually owning real estate in Chicago.
“I was doing 15 consecutive years, got out, and I still accomplished everything that I wanted to accomplish and more. And it was all due to the program that Larry offers,” Hemingway said.
“Not only did I receive the knowledge on how to cut hair and how to run and conduct the business, but I was also able to obtain many things that I wouldn’t have been able to if it wasn’t for the constructive staff at Larry’s Barber Maximus.”
Expanding Larry’s Barber Colleges includes Roberts’ plan to educate more students in Chicago Public Schools (CPS), provide housing to homeless high school-aged students, and incorporate programs such as nail technician and esthetician training.
Roberts’ barber schools target CPS students; however, people of all ages are welcome to attend.