At the close of business on Saturday, Sept. 30, Al Eggerichs will sweep up the last pile of snipped hair, put away his barbering tools and shut off the lights. After 54 years, he’s stepping away from his barber shop just a little past the corner of 22nd Ave. and Johnson St. NE and into retirement. “I’m going to sneak out and never look back,” he said.
Cutting hair runs in the family. Eggerichs’ father was a barber, and so was his older brother. Al got into the business after he was drafted by the Army; he failed the physical because of high blood pressure. Raised in southern Minnesota, he moved to Minneapolis to learn the art of barbering at the old Vocational High School downtown. “I was out making money in nine months,” he said.
He worked for a barber in Richfield for a while, then bought the shop building at 1606 22nd Ave. NE. He paid $22,000 in 1978; he said he recently sold it to the owners of Que Viet for $220,000. “The IRS is gonna love me — capital gains,” he commented.
When Eggerichs began working in the mid-1960s, men’s haircuts were short. Fathers wore buzz cuts and so did their sons. “And then the Beatles came along and all the kids wanted to let their hair grow. The dads didn’t like it,” he said.
Barbers in that era charged $2 for a haircut. Now prices are “all over the place,” he said.
Eggerichs couldn’t recall serving any famous customers, although Julius Perlt, the longtime announcer at Minnesota Gophers football and basketball games, used to come in for a trim. Mostly he served the working class people of the neighborhood.
The COVID pandemic changed the way he did business. He went from taking walk-in customers to scheduled appointments. He decided to continue taking appointments because it allowed him to even out his workload.
As he winds his business down, he and his wife, Mary, are planning to do some traveling in the U.S. They’ve traveled out of the country; now it’s time to see places like Yellowstone. He also looks forward to having more time to shoot clay pigeons. The shelf above the barbershop mirrors is lined with team shooting trophies won in years past.
Barbering has been a “long haul that’s served me well,” Eggerichs said. “I want to thank Northeast for putting up with me for so long.”
Photo: Al Eggerichs is looking forward to shooting more clay pigeons after he retires. (Cynthia Sowden)