Barber Clair Mehus follows profession of father, grandfather
MINOT, N.D. (AP) — Her grandfather was a barber. Her father was a barber. Now she’s a barber and thoroughly enjoying it.
“I really love cutting hair. It definitely is what I was supposed to do,” said Clair Mehus, Arrowhead Barber in Minot.
There was a time though when Mehus wasn’t so sure she wanted to pursue a career of cutting hair and trimming beards. Following her graduation from Williston High School she had no intention of becoming a barber. She hadn’t decided on any other profession either.
“Finally, just to appease my father, I enrolled at Moler Barber College in Fargo,” Mehus told the Minot Daily News. “I’ve been doing this since 2004. Now I own a shop and dad’s working under me.”
Her father cut hair for 35 years at several different locations in North Dakota. Mehus brought him out of retirement so he could help out as needed at Arrowhead Barber.
“We’re North Dakota people born and raised. Dad working with me makes for a good team. He’s working a couple of hours a day,” said Mehus.
Like many other businesses, Arrowhead Barber was closed down due the coronavirus pandemic. That meant a loss of income for Mehus. To make matters worse, her husband also found himself out of work when his company made cuts because of declining business due to the coronavirus.
“It’s been kind of a bumpy road. To have both of us down was definitely a big, big challenge. But we made it,” said Mehus. “One day at a time. That’s all we can do.”
With some precautions in place, Mehus reopened Arrowhead Barber May 4. Once again she is cutting hair and trimming beards. Clients that had gone for weeks without having their hair cut were more than eager to see her back behind the barber chair. It was more than OK for Mehus too.
“It feels good to be back at work, that’s for sure,” remarked Mehus. “I don’t even know how to explain it. It’s been crazy times. People have been coming in and the phone is ringing non-stop.”
Mehus said she knew the demand for haircuts was growing each and every day of the coronavirus shutdown. She even contemplated cutting hair out of her garage until she learned she’d likely get in trouble for doing so. Now she is cutting hair for many who have gone several more weeks than usual between visits to the barber.
“They are just so glad to get their hair cut, calling themselves werewolves,” laughed Mehus. “They are hairy, really overdue. Some ask me to take some extra off in case I get shut down again.”
Mehus said she gets home from work now sore and tired and hungry from the long hours standing and cutting hair, but likes the feeling.
“I don’t like not working,” said Mehus. “I’ve been doing something since I was 15 years old.”
A change of procedures is part of the reopening of Arrowhead Barber. Extra cleaning is done after each client receives a hair cut or trim.
“Lots of extra cleaning. My sinus cavities are starting to hurt but I will be cleaning like this all the time,” said Mehus. “I cleaned before but never to this measure. The coronavirus definitely opened my eyes to this.”
Inside Arrowhead Barber there are several chairs for customers to sit on, and magazines to read, while waiting their turn in the barber chair. This past week though, despite being busy from opening to closing, the chairs were seldom used and the magazines virtually untouched.
A sign near the door of the business lists guidelines for operation, including that only one client be in the shop at a time. Those waiting for a haircut are asked to wait outside the barber shop until called in by Mehus. Masks are encouraged, not required. And, reads the guideline list, allow extra time for cleaning between clients and practice social distancing.
Once in the barber chair though, Mehus enjoys the presence of her customers.
“For me it’s the people. I enjoy visiting with people,” said Mehus. “And they are happy to get a haircut.