Krista Corner Havre Daily News email@example.com
Are barbers really a dying breed? That’s the rumor, but a state official on the Board of Barbers and Cosmetologists says it’s just not true. Times have changed for barbers, that much is true. The owner of Havre's Kleen Kut barber shop, Ralph Cross, said for one thing prices have gone up and the number of barber shops have gone down. “I’ve only been here for 26 years,” he said with a laugh. “There were four (shops) 26 years ago, and now there are two.” Cross said when he first opened his barber shop he charged between $3 and $3.50 for a cut. In keeping with the times the price is now $12. He also said he believes barbers will vanish unless Montanans have access to barber schools. Montana Board of Barbers and Cosmetologists Program Manager Andy Verbanac said Tuesday she saw barbering as a dying trade. “In 2006, two of our barber board members went (with me) to Denver and found that it’s only a dying breed in Montana and Wyoming,” she said “When we came back we let these schools know that it’s only dying here because we don’t have the resources available. So schools decided to open their doors so we can try and get (our barbers) back.” Seeing barber schools close has been a trend for some time, independent contractor at Kleen Kut barber shop Joe Selby said. “The World’s Fair took my barber school when it came to Spokane,” he said, adding that he had just graduated before the school was torn down. Verbanac said the last barber school in Montana closed its doors almost four years ago. “It looks like the last one (closed) March 2004,” she said. “That was at the University of Montana in Missoula.” However, Cross said rumors have been circulating that a school already opened its doors to barber students in the state. “There’s a rumor about one being opened in Billings, but we can’t find it,” he said. Verbanac confirmed it as fact. “It is the Academy of Nail, Skin and Hair Technology in Billings,” she said. “It was approved at the July 2007 board meeting.” Lori’s Cut-N-Go owner Lori Warren of Havre said she’d been told a school in Great Falls would be opening its doors soon, as well. “The state inspector was just here and he said the professional academy in Great Falls was trying to get a barber part there,” Warren said. Verbanac again confirmed the information. “There’s an application going before the January board meeting for another school in Great Falls,” she said. “The Professional Salon Academy is a cosmetology school that has opened its doors for a barbering course, so they can take students in barbering.” Verbanac said the state hopes these two schools will be the start of a new trend for training barbers. “Our hope is that these schools retain students and others will see the profession isn’t dying, so they’ll open up the schools and bring the profession back.” Reviving the barber profession could help local business owners. Cross, Selby and Warren say they have busy businesses. Warren took over the former Jer’s Cut-N-Go shop in July. “I’ve stayed pretty busy,” she said as she cut a customer’s hair Tuesday. “Most of his clients have stayed with me.” She said the first day she opened she closed early because she had performed 40 haircuts between 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p. m. and her arms ached. She just couldn't hold them up anymore. As for rumors about low numbers of barbers in the state, Verbanac said numbers are low when compared to the number of licensed cosmetologists, but the numbers are still pretty high. “We have 584 active licensed barbers in the whole state,” she said. “We have 6,155 active licenses for cosmetology.” Just because no new barbers were licensed between 2004 and now, she said it didn’t mean there was an upward trend in the number of cosmetologists. “From 1999 to 2004 we received 1,094 applications and since then, since March 31, 2004, we’ve had 194, so I would say, no, there was no upward trend,” she said. For people interested in getting a barber’s license, Verbanac said the course requires “1,500 hours for just anybody, but if you currently hold an active cosmetology license you only have to go an additional 150 hours for clipper cuts and shaving,” which are specific classes cosmetologists are not taught. Warren agreed that barbering is quite a bit different Than being a cosmetologist. She received her cosmetology license in 1993. “Barbers trim eyebrows, beards and mustaches,” she said. “We don’t learn clipper cuts at beauty school. I got schooled in that at Malmstrom Air Force Base those boys aren’t allowed to have much hair, so what hair there is must be perfect.” Verbanac said that although cosmetologists were required to receive additional training if they were to be licensed as a barber, licensed barbers can do anything beauticians can except manicuring nails.