Cutting hair, a family affair

Jess Gorman
Granite Falls Advocate Tribune

Stepping into the Prentice Street Barbers’ location, the chairs are filled yet the room is calm. A TV plays softly above the hair washing sink and mellow yet upbeat music seems to trickle in from every corner of the room. The owners, Jerome Hunts Along and brother, Edward Schommer, stand over their clients' chairs, stoically sculpting like MIchelangelo putting the final touches on his statue of David. It’s March 9, a Tuesday, and the first day the local barber shop has opened. It's about noon and already the third walk in has wandered through the door. “You have time for a haircut sonny?” says the already seemingly crisp cut older gentlemen, “That's your guy right over there” nods Jerome towards his brother’s chair. Edward informs the visitor, ‘I can get you in at 2:00pm.’ “That works!” exclaims the new barbershop patron. 

Jerome Hunts Along has long loved the atmosphere of a barbershop. While in the military in El Paso, Jerome remembers his local barber shop visits “I was down there four years, we had to get a haircut near every week. I went to a barber shop there and I always enjoyed it, they were busy but it still felt relaxed, you could listen to music and leave with your hair looking really good, “ he says with joy in his eyes. These weekly visits sparked something in Jerome, a yearning to create the same atmosphere for himself and his home community.

Completing barber school after his military service, Jerome graduated from the Moler Barber school of Fridley Minnesota in 2018 after nine months of training. Working in Minneapolis and then Willmar after his graduation, Jerome carried his dream of someday opening his own shop, in his hometown of Granite Falls. Over a few years, he lovingly talked up the profession to his brother Edward non-stop. Like the Minnesota River running through Granite, Jerome eventually wore Edward down like a smooth stone with Schommer ultimately attending Moler Barber School as well at the St. Cloud location. Edward completed his final exam on February 1 2021, after a nearly 6 month delay had affected the schools graduates ability to test out due to Covid-19 related impacts.  

Jerome acquired the Prentice street building in August of 2020, taking over the former Pop’s Printing/Capone and Company location.  Renovations started in August of 2020 and continued until conclusion at the end of February 2021 with a total of nearly $20,000 invested into the space. Work done included: removing a walled-in reception area at front entrance, painting, floor grinding and coating, as well as  plumbing. Everything seemed to take a little longer because of Covid-19. The plumbing plan approval through the state was a significant waiting game for the two eager to serve entrepreneurs, two months before the final words came through. The tool bench barber station decor feels unique, with sleek clean lines that will hold up to any active day, much like the haircuts, the stations help crank out. With the red vinyl chairs feeling like the insides of a classic car, the shine of the Husky benches reflecting the stark white studio lighting, the men's hair haven felt like a spa that could also polish your socket wrench. 

When asked why Granite Falls for their location choice? Wondering, was it the geographic appeal or the clientele base, Jerome explains, “I’ve always wanted to bring it back to Granite Falls all these years, it's more convenient to my life because I live here and to the clientele. I can stay later hours and I feel like I am helping people out, providing a service here in this area that they need. There aren't many barber shops around. Opening one here we can serve communities like Renville, Sacred Heart, Montevideo, and more, that maybe don't have as much access to this service”. Going on to add, “That's the joy of being a local barber, being in town where I live, serving the community I live with”.

The Jerome and Edward ownership duo also has a third barber coming in to meet the community hair needs. Another army serviceman from Jerome’s until will join the team next month. The shop is currently operational Tuesday through Saturday between 10 in the morning and 6 at night.

Prentice Street barbers hopes to have a grand opening event at some point, but for right now “We are really just focusing on getting back to work” says Hunts Along. The shop's bookings have filled up rapidly for the first week with a handful of slots still remaining - promising a bright future for the young venture.