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Amy Dalrymple, Forum News Service, Published June 02 2013

Faces of the Boom: Busy barber finds new home in Williston

WILLISTON, N.D. – During the first four minutes of his workday Friday, Williston barber Jason Johnson had five walk-in customers.

It was just a typical day for Jason’s Barber Shop, one of two traditional barber shops in the rapidly growing oil town.

But even though he’s in high demand, Johnson feared he’d have to leave Williston because his shop is in the same building as the Home of Economy store, which is expanding and needs the space.

“Everywhere I looked there was nothing available to rent, and it’s too expensive to buy anything right now,” said Johnson, a Grenora native.

Johnson, 40, a graduate of Fargo’s Moler Barber College, began working as a barber 18 years ago in Plentywood, Mont.

He bought the Williston barber shop, which has been at its current location for 31 years, about two years ago when the former owner retired.

Johnson now splits his time between Williston and Plentywood, where his wife and daughter live and where he cuts hair part time.

As oil activity picked up in Williston, Johnson began seeing longtime customers leave the area. But the influx of new residents, particularly men working in the oil industry, brought Johnson a lot of new customers.

“It’s been a very good business opportunity for me,” Johnson said.

Two barbers recently left Williston, one relocating to Mandan and the other to Minot, Johnson said.

While the city has several hair salons, that’s not the preferred option for some men, he said.

“There’s a lot of men that don’t like going to a beauty shop,” Johnson said.

The Home of Economy expansion will be good for the community, Johnson said, but the news that he’d need to relocate left him searching for an option for about six weeks.

“I had such a business built up in Williston I hated to leave,” he said.

Last week, Johnson found out he won’t have to. Through word of mouth and the help of some customers, Johnson found a new home for his shop in a building that’s under construction in Williston. The details were being finalized, but Johnson said his shop will close after June 18 and reopen this fall in a new location.

“The town of Williston stepped up to the plate and helped me out because they didn’t want to see another barber leave,” Johnson said.