New Brunswick functions like any other city in terms of its government: it has a mayor and a city council, all of whom are elected by residents. Like other urban areas, it also has unofficial leaders that work within the community to influence the city at a grassroots level. Barbershops are a common social gathering place, especially for Hispanic and African American community members. Barbershops provide a service that is always needed, that are relatively inexpensive to run and maintain, and provide a space for people to gather. Owners and barbers are able to sit down with many individuals each day, and they have no choice but to talk. They talk about life, mutual friends, and the city. Information passes through word of mouth.
Barbershops in New Brunswick have been able to survive gentrification and economic change. However, as the cost of rent increases, it is becoming more difficult for these commercial ventures to remain. The owners of these shops are a vital part of the city who work to maintain communal bonds with residents, creating strong ties between residents and the city.
As more blue-collar jobs disappear, property taxes increase, and rent increases, will these barbershops be able to survive in New Brunswick? If these barbershops disappear, how will the community change? Will the community suffer when its unofficial leaders disappear?