Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Lois E. Johnson
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

After 45 years, barber shop to close

Robb Anderson to retire, close Moose Lake shop after 45 years of business


Lois E. Johnson

This is the last haircut Robb Anderson will give Bob Hansen. Anderson will retire September 30.

Robb Anderson didn't know it at the time, but a paper he wrote in high school laid out his future career.

Anderson grew up in Denham and attended the Denham school until it burned. He started attending Willow River School in 1958, graduating in 1965.

"I was lazy," he said. "When I was a senior I had to write a paper about a career. I looked through magazines until I found one that had the shortest paragraphs to write, and wrote about being a barber. I just wanted to finish school and get out of there."

There was a barber school in St. Paul and Robb and his dad, Ed, traveled there and put money down in 1964, said Anderson.

After he graduated, the military came first.

"I spent four years in the Air Force," he said. "I spent most of the time in England, and I was in Germany and Libya, too. I won't be going back to that part of the world again because of the heat."

Anderson has fond memories of his two roommates from the service.

"I heard one of them has Alzheimer's," he said. "The other one and I call each other once a year. He lives in Anaheim now."

After Anderson left the service, he said he came back home and laid around until his dad told him he had to get a job or go to school.

"That's when I started barber school," he said. "I went to Brooks Barber School for 10 months, from July through May. We learned speed. If we could do 50 haircuts before noon, we could leave for the day. We didn't like to do kids, they took too long. We liked the old guys with not much hair."

Anderson is still speedy. Customers spend seven minutes in the chair.

"One lady dropped her husband off and asked how long it would be before she could come back and get him," he recalled. "I told her he would be done before she got back to the car."

One customer who came in for a haircut during the interview for this story was Stanley Greski.

"He used to ride on my bus," said Greski. "I worked for his dad for six years as a substitute bus driver."

Anderson remembers those days.

"There was one place where the bus would get stuck when the roads were bad," he said. "I would have to walk back to town and get my mother (Arlean). Now, with cell phones, the driver could just call and ask someone to come and get us."

Anderson had a thriving business to step into when he finished barber school.

"Ernie Newbloom had this shop and was about to retire," he said. "When he heard I was in barber school, he waited to retire until I was ready to take over the shop. For me, it was nice. The place was here; I didn't have to start anything. It got to be a lazy career."

That was 45 years ago. Anderson has remained in the same place all those years.

"I started here on May 6, 1971," he said. "I still have the same key."

Anderson and his wife, Hope, built a home next to where his parents moved south of Rutledge. He's been commuting 18 miles each way ever since.

"I'm not going to miss driving in the ice and snow," he said. "But I only went in the ditch once. That was my fault."

Anderson had a small farm where he lived.

"We had cattle for a while until it got to be more work than I thought it would be," he said. "But we built a new house and paid it off in seven years because of the cattle."

It wasn't only the shop in Moose Lake that Anderson had, he also spent one day a week in a little shop next to the Merc in Willow River.

"I closed that three years ago," he said.

Anderson's customers sit in an antique barber chair when they come in for haircuts.

"I own three barber chairs," he said. "This one is made up of two chairs. The brake wouldn't work so I used the bottom of another chair on this one. I'll be taking it with me when I leave."

No one will be taking over the barber shop after Anderson closes it September 30.

"No one has been interested in the last 15 years," he said. "I'm going to miss my customers. If I needed to find out about a part for my tractor, I knew who to ask. I've heard lots of different stories over the years."

Anderson said he plans to stay home after he retires.

"We don't have any interest in traveling," he said. "I plan to clean up things that have accumulated over the years. I have kept every license and inspection slip. The first thing I am going to do is throw them all away."


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