BEST BARBER SHOP Minneapolis 1999 -
"I had a two-chair operation, until the ponytail deprived me of the one man I had," says Bryce Menard, the 77-year-old proprietor of one of South Minneapolis's oldest and smallest barber shops. There's precious little fanciness in Menard's one-seater, though it possesses the definitive elements of the classic barber shop: the candy-stripe pole, the ever-playing radio (generally tuned to the big band sounds of KLBB), an antique Burma Shave mirror, and, of course, a stack of faded magazines. A handsomely mounted, nine-point mule deer that Bryce shot back in the '60s hangs on one wall, but there's little in the way of other adornments. Menard's cuts--like his shop--are clean and basic, and therein lies his chief virtue. He's a well-practiced whiz with the electric clippers, for anyone out there seeking the Timothy McVeigh look, though he also does the more conventional hairstyles as well. And all for a very reasonable eight dollars per cut. Awhile back, the erstwhile Iron Ranger dropped shampoos and shaves from his repertoire; ask him about the latter and you'll get an amusing yarn about a tough beard, a raised mole, and lots of blood. Still, he has a gaggle of loyal customers, some of whom have been coming to the shop for more than 30 years. Menard, who started out in the barbering business back in 1942, has operated from two different storefronts on the 2400 block of Hennepin Avenue (a photo of the current shop is included in the recently issued monograph, "The American Barbershop: A Close Look at a Disappearing Place"). Menard, however, says he has no intention of disappearing--or, for that matter, retiring. "I don't know what I'd do," he figures. "I'd be bored to death."