His name says it all: We•is•hair Pelican barber has
mastered his profession over nearly 40 years– including the fine
art of conversation
By Paul Gubrud, Special Correspondent
Shortly after I moved to Pelican Rapids, I was having coffee with the guys at the turkey plant. I also needed a haircut but had no idea where to go, so I asked for recommendations. The late Jerry Haugen immediately said, “863-2222!”
It is the phone number for Kim Weishair’s Barber Shop. It is engraved in my memory to this day. I have dialed it countless times.
In those days, Kim’s shop was in the basement of the Krekelberg Law office, and that is where I had my first haircut from Kim.
After growing up in Eagle Bend, Kim attended barber school in Fargo. Once he had graduated, he investigated a prospective job in Velva, ND. After a telephone interview with the owner, Kim then made the long drive to Velva. The owner had told Kim to stop at the local café to get the key, as he would likely be out delivering mail.
The trip to Velva took most of the day, and then he stopped at the café.
“So you’re the new barber in town,” the café owner said as he handed Kim the key.
“No, I am just here to interview for the job,” Kim replied.
Kim went next door to the barbershop, and as he was unlocking the door, somebody else noticed a new face in town. Apparently, the rumors had spread around Velva, and someone was checking him out.
“You must be the new barber. Can you give me a haircut?”
Kim again explained that he was just interviewing for the job, but the gentleman wanted a haircut, and he was persistent.
Kim unlocked the door, seated the customer, found all the haircutting tools, and then proceeded to give the gentleman a haircut as if it was routine, and he worked there. In the midst of cutting the man’s hair, the owner arrived and offered Kim the job.
Fortunately for Pelican Rapids, Kim declined.
Kim, Barnesville girl Stacy find home–and business–in Pelican Rapids
Kim wanted to work closer to home. After passing the Minnesota license exam, he worked in Wadena while dating a girl that he had met in hairstyling school. It was Stacy Beyer from Barnesville.
On December 10, 1983, Kim and Stacy were united in marriage. They had decided to locate closer to Barnesville, as Stacy’s father owned the barbershop in town. They chose to start their business in Pelican Rapids, renting space in the basement of the Krekelberg Law Office building.
They spent their honeymoon setting up the shop, opening for business just three days later. That was 36 years ago.
Kim told me those first few years were difficult, as Pelican Rapids already had a well-established barber, Mike Brenna. Everyone liked Mike and were reluctant to change something as personal as the barber that had been cutting their hair for years. Attracting new customers was difficult, but Kim and Stacy managed to survive, and eventually, the business thrived.
A few years later, they were able to purchase the Ben’s Auto Service building, where he is today. After extensive remodeling, they both set up their shops. Their businesses grew, and Kim is now known as the town barber.
A “master” at the art of conversation
There is one thing that all good barbers, bartenders, and preachers have in common. It is the ability to engage you in conversation and make you feel comfortable in their presence, and Kim is a master of the art.
He has the ability to know a person by their first name after meeting them once, and will always use it.
Once a customer sits down in his barber chair, Kim focuses all of his attention on the customer engaging in friendly conversation. Depending on the customer, it might be about Friday night’s basketball game, deer hunting, gardening, a good recipe, or anything else that keeps the conversation flowing. He always seems to know the latest news in town.
When my sons were young teenagers, they would come home from a haircut with Kim and tell me about the “interesting” magazines Kim let them read, or at least they looked at the pictures. Kim was doing what a parent cannot do in leading a teenage boy into adulthood.
After you have spent any time in the barbershop, you will realize that conversations can often get interesting, especially with people Kim knows well.
Often times in conversation with friends, Kim will lament about the tough life of a barber as he is fishing for sympathy, and it usually involves money. He will tell you about having to get to work early, not getting a lunch break, working every Saturday, and not being able to lock the front door until late in the day. And then, after a full day of cutting hair, he doesn’t receive the amenities of paid health insurance or a retirement plan.
Often times the “bull” gets deep.
Anyone that knows Kim well will dish it back, usually questioning how he declares his income to the IRS in a cash-only business. Kim will quickly respond with humorous counter jabs.
Recently when Wayne Bakken was in the shop as I was getting a haircut, Kim said to me, “Wayne has not spent the money he received at his confirmation yet.” He was referring to Wayne’s conservative nature, a subject that Wayne plays to the hilt with witty counter-jabs.
It is all a bunch of bull puckey. Kim does well for himself despite what he may tell you. It is all in jest. He is his own boss … and he can golf with the preachers on Mondays.
Getting to know Kim over the years has been a delight, and I am always smiling when I leave his shop.