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Angie Wieck, Published September 02 2013

Moler Barber College still going after 90 years

Fargo - This month marks 90 years for Moler Barber College in downtown Fargo.

A member of the Everett Cannon family has been at its helm for nearly 40 years.

P.C. Anderson opened the business at 418 Main Ave. in 1923 as a franchise of A.B. Moler, who opened the first barber college in Chicago in 1893.

Forum archives indicate the college closed its doors for a time during World War II due to a lack of students, but it was reopened in 1946 by Adolph Stromme and C.P. Wick.

Stromme assumed sole ownership in 1962 and moved the college to its current location at 16 8th St. S. in 1965.

In 1967, Stromme recruited former student Everett Cannon to teach.

That offer came with an invitation to purchase the college when Stromme retired, which Cannon did in 1976.

His son and daughter-in-law, Joel and Mary Cannon, graduated from the college soon after.

They operated Cannon Clippers in Mayville before buying the college when Everett Cannon retired in 1990. Mary Cannon has operated the college independently since the couple divorced in 2004.

Joel and Mary Cannon’s daughters, Maureen Cannon and Chelsey Ehlen, also attended Moler. The sisters opened Everett’s Barbershop, named in honor of their grandfather, last summer at 230 Broadway S. in downtown Fargo.

Maureen Cannon said she plans to take over the college one day. Not only does she want to keep the business in the family, she said closing the college would be a travesty because it is the only barber college in North Dakota. It also serves students from area states such as South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana that are without a college.

Maureen and Mary Cannon agree that the future looks bright for the profession.

Barbershops lost some of their clientele when chains like Cost Cutters and Great Clips opened in the 1980s. Such salons employed cosmetologists rather than barbers and were able to offer extended evening and weekend hours. This appealed to mothers who began bringing their young sons to salons out of convenience. Husbands soon started to follow.

The Cannons say many men are now returning to their local barbershop. They seem to enjoy the atmosphere as well as the barber’s expertise in men’s services such as haircuts and shaves.

While metro areas may be seeing a resurgence in barbershops, rural barbers continue to do what is necessary to keep the profession alive. Mary Cannon said most of her students are recruited by small-town barbers looking to retire.

Current Moler students Jay Slater and Lin Thompson both plan to return to their hometowns in South Dakota to take over shops from retiring barbers.

Mary Cannon said there are many benefits to the profession, including job security. “People are always going to need a haircut,” she said.


BUSINESS PROFILE

• Business: Moler Barber College

• Address: 16 8th St. S., Fargo.

• Phone: (701) 232-6773


Readers can reach Forum reporter Angie Wieck at (701) 241-5501