FARGO - Moler Barber College has gotten a new leadership look.

The downtown icon - with its twin rows of 1960s-vintage barber chairs, vinyl floors, wood paneling and wide mirrors - switched ownership just after the first of the year, with longtime owner Mary Cannon selling the house of hair to former Twin Cities and St. Cloud, Minn., barber, Andrew Storkamp.

“I came (to Fargo) and met Mary and I owned a school before in St. Cloud,” Storkamp said Tuesday, Sept. 10. “I thought it was a good fit.”

Cannon, 61, has been in the barber college business 30 years. She sold the building a couple of years ago.

It was Storkamp’s persistence that paid off in the sale of the barber college at 16 8th St. S.

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“Andrew gave me the incentive when he kept bugging me,” Cannon said.

Mary Cannon, the former owner of Moler Barber College, gets her hair trimmed by student Jeanie Thepouthay on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019. Cannon sold the Fargo business at the start of the year and will work as a consultant for the next couple years. (Helmut Schmidt / The Forum)
Mary Cannon, the former owner of Moler Barber College, gets her hair trimmed by student Jeanie Thepouthay on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019. Cannon sold the Fargo business at the start of the year and will work as a consultant for the next couple years. (Helmut Schmidt / The Forum)

Ownership was officially transferred Jan. 2, though Cannon is still working at the school, which has taught generations of barbers serving the Upper Midwest.

“I like making people feel good,” Storkamp said.

And he enjoys teaching.

“I want people to succeed, that’s the biggest thing,” he said.

Storkamp and Cannon say she’ll remain at the college for a couple of years as a consultant.

“It makes more of a seamless transaction,” Cannon said, relaxing in a chair as student Jeanie Thepouthay gives her a trim.

Storkamp, a big man who once played football and still does his share of weightlifting, had worked as a barber in the Twin Cities for 20 years. He then was an owner of the St. Cloud Moler Barber School for two years.

The barber college has 12-13 students, with a capacity for 20, Storkamp said. The students can get their certifications in 9 ½ to 10 months.

Moler Barber College students cut and trim customers' hair at the downtown Fargo business on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019. (Helmut Schmidt / The Forum)
Moler Barber College students cut and trim customers' hair at the downtown Fargo business on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019. (Helmut Schmidt / The Forum)

Cannon said barbering is enjoying a renaissance, with the turn to shorter hairstyles for men.

Fargo’s Moler Barber College was opened in 1923 by A.B. Moler, Cannon said.

Moler founded the first barbering school in the U.S. in Chicago in 1893. He began franchising barber schools around the country in 1899.

Moler Barber College was originally in the area of the Fryin’ Pan restaurant, but moved to its current location in the early 1960s when urban renewal removed run-down buildings in that part of the city, Cannon said.

Among the barber college’s owners was Everett Cannon, Mary Cannon’s father-in-law, who sold the school to her and her former husband.

Barbering is apparently in the blood, because both of her daughters are barbers themselves. Chelsey Ehlen owns Everett’s Barbershop at 230 Broadway and works there with her sister, Maureen Robinson, Cannon said.

The current building owner is now redoing the entry to bring back the building’s original look.

But Storkamp won't change the Mad Men-era style of the interior of the school.

“I want to keep everything the same. A lot of clients like the vintage look,” he said.