April 30, 2007

Look who's behind the chair now

Longtime Cokato barber, Mike Ackerman, hands over his chair

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

After 35 years of cutting hair, Cokato barber, Mike Ackerman cut hair for the last time Friday and will be turning over his business starting Tuesday.

“The time has come,” Ackerman said.

The 38 years of standing behind a chair is catching up to him. “My legs and feet are tired,” he said.

Although he is sad to be leaving his customers behind, Ackerman will now have time to get to the “Honey Do List” his wife, Mary, has made for him, he said. He will also find time to play some golf, he said.

“I will miss the people the most,” Ackerman said.

“I know everyone who comes in here. Every four weeks, they come and chat for awhile – and incidentally, at the end, they give me some money,” he said.

The people have been terrific, Ackerman said, and he hopes the new barber will be treated with the same respect.

Steve Dietman of Monticello will be taking over, but he plans to keep the shop the same.

“I want everyone to come and have the same comfortable feel. Just a different view behind the chair, that’s about it,” Dietman said.

He does want to extend the hours eventually to accommodate the commuters who live in Cokato, but may not be able to make it in until after 5:30 p.m.

Ackerman put the word out to his suppliers that he would be selling the shop and anyone interested in owning a small-town barber shop should let him know.

Dietman, who previously worked as a barber at a shop in Coon Rapids, saw an opportunity to settle some and grow some roots.

“I’ve been in big cities almost all my life, and I wanted to come to a small town like Cokato,” Dietman said.

When he was a child, Dietman and his family would camp at Cokato Lake and attend the summer’s Corn Carnival festivities. He hopes to move to Cokato in September.

“I’m looking forward to being a part of this community,” he said.

In his free time, Dietman enjoys riding his motorcycle and is always looking for people to go riding with, he said.

Dietman hasn’t always been a barber. Before he went to barber school in 2005, Dietman was in sales, and then lawn care, but his knees didn’t like it, he said.

Dietman’s uncle was a barber for 35 years, so he knew he could make a comfortable living. He went to Moler Barber School in Minneapolis and found he really liked what he was doing.

“I can spend all day with my friends. What better job is there than that?” he said.

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