MINNEAPOLIS — The Grain Exchange Barber Shop has survived two pandemics, two world wars, a Great Depression and a Great Recession, and so much more, since opening more than a century ago in 1902.
It's all coming to an end in a few short weeks.
Bob Haddow, only the fifth person to ever own the barber shop inside the historic Grain Exchange on 4th Street, said he's closing his first-floor business on March 31.
"I'm going to miss it," Haddow said. "I'm going to miss it a lot."
There was a time, many years ago, when the barber shop served hundreds of busy grain traders each day, providing a fresh cut and shave before they climbed the stairs to the building's fourth story for a chaotic day on the trading floor. Those days are long gone. The trades happen electronically now, as do most things, and there are fewer and fewer people milling around the Grain Exchange building needing a haircut.
Sure, Haddow still cuts hair for a lot of attorneys, judges, and city workers employed either at City Hall or the federal courthouse across the street. However, in the past few years, COVID drastically altered work habits. A lot of people only come downtown to work in the office a few days a week. Plus, the Grain Exchange sold to another company in 2020.
Haddow just can't make the rent work anymore.
"I can move my skills somewhere else. It's not my loss, so much as downtown's loss," Haddow said. "When you take out a business that's been here 120 years, you're really losing a piece of history. That's for sure."
Haddow, an artist and trained historian who has painted many pictures and published multiple books, will be selling the memorabilia that adorns his shop this Saturday and Sunday.
Want a picture of the St. Paul Saints at Midway Stadium with Abraham Lincoln looming over the outfield wall? An old-school clock? A keepsake from Hawaii? It's all yours, for a price.
But Haddow can't put a price tag on the loss of the stories, or the deep conversations with customers, that have defined the Grain Exchange Barber Shop over the past 121 years. Through his job, he has met police officers, baseball players, and real estate developers, and one time he claims he cut Ed Sheeran's hair before a concert at U.S. Bank Stadium.
It's been a good run.
"I hate to see it go. All my clients do," Haddow said. "I'm giving up something that is not transactional. This is a fun place, where we hear great stories. I'm going to give that up and I hope I can find another place where I can be myself."
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