As people walk by, they'll notice a tray of wrapped candy in the corner, colorful fish swimming in a perfectly clear tank and hear the unmistakable hum of the barber's clipper. They might also hear Kevin Mosser laughing at a line delivered by a familiar customer.
Mosser is the owner of Arrowhead Barber Shop located in Minot's Arrowhead Mall. He's been cutting hair for 16 years, the first eight under the direction of former owner Dean Sommerville. When Sommerville hung up his clippers in 2000, Mosser jumped at the chance to take over the shop. He enjoys cutting hair even if others don't quite understand the reasons why.
"No. Nobody who gets their hair cut asks me about that," replied Mosser with a laugh when asked if any customers inquire about becoming a barber. "I don't know why that is. It's a good career. I'm happy with it, love it most days and I wish I would have started a lot sooner. I don't have to fight the outside elements like wind, snow and heat."
The friendly commander of the clipper has been at his craft long enough to have clients that first came in as children and have now graduated from high school. The reason for their loyalty is that Mosser knows how to cut their hair as they desire. That's not always an easy thing to do given the ever-changing look of young men's hairstyles.
"Preferred styles tend to come around once or twice, the same cuts," said Mosser. "Where they used to wear it long, now they may go to short and then back to the long styles again."
When asked if he prefers cutting long hair or short hair, Mosser responded, "It doesn't matter. Some people just have more to fall, that's all. We get some that come in every two weeks and others that maybe wait a few weeks too long. There's quite a few military cuts too, in between and all sorts."
Prairie Profile is a weekly feature profiling interesting people in our region. We welcome suggestions from our readers. Call Regional Editor Eloise Ogden at 857-1944 or Managing Editor Kent Olson at 857-1939. Either can be reached at 1-800-735-3229. You also can send e-mail suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
When the Arrowhead Mall began a remodeling project several months ago, management asked Mosser if he would consider moving his shop to a different location. The new spot was just a few yards from his old space. That gave him the chance to put together a completely new decor and meant that his regular customers wouldn't have difficulty in finding the new location.
"It's a good location," said Mosser of his Arrowhead shop. "We've got the Driver's License Bureau right next door and we get a lot of walk-in traffic. I've got that going for me. I don't think some of the smaller shops have the privilege of getting walk-in traffic like that. I'm happy with that."
Cutting hair correctly and efficiently is what being a good barber is all about. According to Mosser, on his busy days he'll cut 20 to 25 heads of hair.
"I guess we're masters of the clipper," said Mosser when asked what separates a barber from a beautician or hairstylist. "I guess that's the main difference. We've been trained since day one to use a clipper."
There are three chairs in Mosser's shop, helping him keep up with the demand of cutting hair. Of course, there's also some lively conversation that barber shops are known for. However, Mosser knows there are times to listen, times to respond and times to avoid a topic altogether.
"The fish make a good conversation piece. I've had them since I took over. Stay away from religion and politics," advised Mosser with a laugh. "Sports is good. Mostly the talk is about the weather, kids and sports... that kind of thing. We try not to get too personal."
An exception to that rule is when Mosser asks a customer how he would like his hair to be cut. Then he adheres to the axiom that the customer is always right and does his utmost to make certain to achieve the precise cut the customer desired. It is no wonder customers return to his chair time and time again.