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Fargoan sticks with tradition in reopening 8th Street Barbershop

Jed Felix, owner of 8th Street Barber in Fargo, trims the beard of Jared Winmill on Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018. Felix, 30, took over the one-chair shop at the start of August following the retirement of longtime owner Jon Larson. (Helmut Schmidt / The Forum) 1 / 2
Jed Felix is the new owner of 8th Street Barber, just south of downtown Fargo. Felix enjoys conversing with customers. "You get to hear the opinions of everybody. The collective opinion of Fargo," he said Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018. (Helmut Schmidt / The Forum)2 / 2

FARGO - When it comes to tradition, Jed Felix aims to be a cut above average.

Felix, the new owner of 8th Street Barbershop, was trimming the beard of Jared Winmill on Tuesday, Aug. 21, as Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London" played on a speaker in the back of the shop.

Winmill, a regular customer for Felix when he cut hair at Everett's Barbershop in downtown Fargo, was relaxing for the first time in Felix's new house of hair.

"Definitely my go-to guy when I get the chance," Winmill said, as Felix alternated between passes with an electric trimmer and delicate snips with a scissors.

The shop, a Fargo icon, has had hair hitting the floor since 1926.

"It's historic," Felix says.

When the last owner, Jon Larson, decided 50 years was enough time helping the hirsute and put the shop up for sale, Felix jumped at the opportunity.

He reopened the shop at 3 8th St. S. as his own on Aug. 1.

"I like this spot. I always wanted this shop. I thought it was kind of cool," the Fargo man said.

With the shop's big picture window and the door open to the street on a sunny, hot summer day, there's a feeling of being part of the city as pedestrians and cars tool by on nearby Main Avenue.

It's a throwback to another era. That's the vibe Felix embraces.

Felix slapped a new coat of paint on the walls, but otherwise, the shop looks much as it has for decades. There are magazines features motorcycles and cars, with a Rolling Stone to leaven the mix. A well-paged copy of The Forum sits on a table.

"I wanted it to stay as traditional as possible. Minimal changes, because I think there's something nice about the traditional American barber shop," Felix said.

Felix grew up and attended school in Moorhead. After he graduated from Moorhead High School, he eventually became a welder.

Four years ago a friend convinced him to take up barbering, and he attended Fargo's Moler Barber College, just a few doors to the south on 8th Street.

After that, Felix apprenticed and worked at Everett's.

As the music changes over to Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," Winmill pays and leaves.

A haircut is $18. A beard trim $10. A black and white board on the wall near the register gives the rest of the shop's prices.

A couple of other potential customers poke their heads in the door to get the shop's hours: Tuesday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Saturday by appointment, Felix says.

In the meantime, John Conlin slides into the barber chair to get his salt-and-pepper locks trimmed.

"I just came here because they get it done quick," Conlin said.

"You go to those men's haircut places, you don't get the same person" every time, he said. "Sometimes you get a good haircut, and sometimes it's really bad. Here, it's really consistent.".

So far, Felix said his customers have been a 50-50 mix of regulars from his time at Everett's, and long-timers at 8th Street Barber.

"Every barber's dream is to own their own barber shop. And I've always liked one-chair barber shops," said Felix.

His wife, Megan, works in downtown Fargo as a tattoo artist, he said.

Felix likes the conversations that strike up with his customers, something you don't get a lot of when welding a couple hunks of metal.

"You get to hear all aspects of life. You get the hear the opinions of everybody. The collective opinion of Fargo," Felix said.

Helmut Schmidt

Helmut Schmidt was born in Germany, but grew up in the Twin Cities area, graduating from Park High School of Cottage Grove. After serving a tour in the U.S. Army, he attended the University of St. Thomas in St Paul, Minn., graduating in 1984 with a degree in journalism. He then worked at the Albert Lea (Minn.) Tribune and served as managing editor there for three years. He joined The Forum in October 1989, working as a copy editor until 2000. Since then, he has worked as a reporter on several beats, including K-12 education, Fargo city government, criminal justice, and military affairs. He is currently one of The Forum's business reporters.

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