The Prairie Clipper, formerly located just off Broadway behind the viaduct, officially opens in its new location inside Home of Economy today.
“We just know, after last year, people avoid construction areas big time,” owner and barber Mike Kroh said.
The first phase of reconstruction on Broadway north of University Avenue took place last year. This year the work includes the section from University to Fourth Avenue. A related storm sewer project will disrupt parking at the Prairie Clipper and force rerouting of traffic in a way that Kroh believes will make access to his shop complicated.
Since his shop depends entirely on drop-in customers, Kroh forecasted a serious business slump.
“You can’t run a business that way so we are getting out,” he said.
The Prairie Clipper’s former location, known as the Brooks Building, has had a long history of barber shops.
Henry Brooks started the first barber shop and operated it for many years before selling in 1972 to Vernon Bohara. The business operated as Vern’s Barber Shop until Bob Schwan purchased it in the 1990s and renamed it the Prairie Clipper. Schwan continues to barber two days a week for Kroh, who bought the business five years ago.
The Brooks Building may not be out of the barber business yet, either. Bill Klimpel with ACR Properties, which manages the building, said two new businesses will be moving in. The businesses weren’t ready to announce last week, but Klimpel said one will be a barber shop.
Other businesses behind the viaduct are expected to stay through the Broadway construction. A tax service operates in the Brooks Building, which also houses apartment dwellings. Other nearby businesses include a pet groomer, attorney, boat repair shop and surveyor.
Once actually a Broadway business, the Brooks Building and its barber shop were physically moved due to another Broadway project decades ago. It was moved farther west to Third Street Northwest, just behind the Broadway viaduct, when the viaduct was built in the 1960s. Third Street Northwest is a short street accessible off Fourth Avenue. Located next to the Souris River, the Brooks Building flooded various times in the late 1960s and early 1970s until Minot obtained flood control.
Kroh’s decision to move also was spurred by an offer from Home of Economy to move into space it was creating for a barber shop.
Home of Economy stores in Grand Forks and Williston have done well with barber shops, said Rob Port, manager for the Minot store.
“I think our clientele appreciate being able to get a service like that. Barbers and farm stores like ours tend to attract some of the same clientele,” he said.
The addition of Prairie Clipper in a former warehouse section of the store is part of a larger remodeling wrapping up at Home of Economy. Walls were removed to open up the store and create more display area. Port said the change comes at an appropriate time.
“We have been really seeing an increase in the amount of people in the store. Sales have been growing greatly,” he said.
Kroh said the new location for Prairie Clipper is closer for many of his customers, who are welcoming the move.
“Everyone we have talked to has been extremely positive. They are all looking forward to it,” he said.
Kroh, a former construction worker, has done much of the remodeling for the new shop himself. The Home of Economy has no steps so will be more accessible than the Brooks Building. But because of the distance from the parking lot to the barber shop, Kroh also plans to offer wheelchair service for his older customers with mobility difficulties.
The new place should seem somewhat familiar to the regulars, too. Making the move from the Brooks Building are the two, dark red barber chairs that have been with the shop since the 1950s.
Mike Kroh gives a trim to Arthur Aarseth in the former barbershop just off North Broadway near the viaduct.