Last local barber bids farewell

FAIRMONT – There were 17 barbers and 12 barbershops in Fairmont when Lee Liljenquist moved to town in 1970.

As of today, there are none.

Liljenquist worked his last day Thursday, marking the end of an era when he finished with his final client.

“It’s time,” said Liljenquist, who was having mixed feelings on his retirement day, as friends, family and colleagues came to wish him well. Next week, he heads to Mesa, Ariz., with his wife, Corrine.

“It is sad,” said Shawna O’Hair, one of three female stylists who work at the barber shop, which will re-open next week as The Crew Cuts for Men.

“I feel very fortunate to have been able to work with him the past 10 years,” O’Hair said.

Much has changed in the world since Liljenquist first joined his profession, 53 years ago at a shop on the corner of 54th and Lyndale in Minneapolis. Elvis was all the rage at that time, and so was the “duck tail” hairstyle he wore. Then came The Beatles, and soon longer hair on men became the norm.

“That’s really when so many barbers quit, when long hair and The Beatles came into being,” Liljenquist said.

But he went with the flow and did it all – duck tails, long hair, flat tops and more – and as a result, he stayed in business.

In the late ’60s, the Liljenquists were tiring of the Twin Cities, so when they heard about a shopping mall being built in Fairmont, they decided to take a chance.

Lee’s Barber Shop was a fixture at the mall until 1997, when he relocated to the establishment’s current location at 100 N. State St., next to Walgreens.

“I met him in 1971,” said Tom Hage, a long-time client who stopped in for a trim on Thursday. “I’ve brought my kids and grandkids to him.”

“He’s an awesome guy,” he said, “a very good, dear friend.”

The sentiment goes both ways. The many customers he met over the years were the best part of the job for Liljenquist.

“It’s kind of like leaving your family,” he said.

When the shop re-opens Monday, O’Hair promised the establishment will remain as close in spirit to a barber shop as possible. The three stylists are familiar faces to clientele: O’Hair, Tina Jaskulke and Hayley Walstead.

The hours will change, with the shop to be open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays; 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays; 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturdays; and closed on Sundays.