In about 2016, I began going to the Big Sky Barber Shop in Dickinson, owned by Matt and Paul Ellerkamp, who are cousins. Matt and Paul were fairly polite and cordial to everyone, and for a time I believed that they were the best and most skilled barbers in Dickinson.
Even though the oil boom was over in Dickinson by the end of 2015, in 2016 and 2017 it was hard to get an appointment at the Big Sky Barber Shop, they were usually booked solid. When I was getting my hair cut by Matt, I learned that he had a Masters Degree in Business Administration from the University of Mary in Bismarck.
If anyone wondered why Matt was a barber, at $20 per haircut, times three customers per hour, times eight hours per day, that equals $480 per day, $2,400 per week, $120,000 per year. But cutting hair all day long, and being on your feet all day long, is not easy, it is hard work.
It was not too much of a surprise to me, that Matt and Paul decided to relocate from their small, cramped barber shop, to a new location in 2018. They were both making good money, they were usually completely booked, so why not get a bigger and nicer place.
I was surprised that Matt and Paul decided to occupy the whole ground floor of a historic building downtown, that required a complete and total renovation. I had been inside of this building before recently, and I knew that this was a huge undertaking, what were Matt and Paul doing I wondered?
It turned out that Matt and Paul were opening “De Porres House of Barbering and Lounge”. I was worried that they had gone too far, they might have been better off just sticking to being barbers, what they had been successfully making money at. In any small town, especially Dickinson, you need to be very cautious about grandiose business plans. Dickinson has gone through some very, very lean times in the past.
Today, was my first, and last time, trying to get my hair cut at De Porres House of Barbering and Lounge. The four on-street parking spaces in front of De Porres were occupied, so I parked in the city lot across the street. I didn’t know how busy they were going to be, it was about 10:30 a.m. on a Monday morning.
When I walked in the front door of De Porres House of Barbering, I was shocked, and I thought to myself, “What is this place?”, because there was an alcohol bar, bartender, and lounge right when you walk in. I was thinking, this is not what I wanted at all, I just want to get a haircut, that’s all.
I guessed that you were supposed to ask the bartender if they had any walk-in appointments available, and the bartender asked me my first and last name, and he put me down for 10:45 a.m. with “Dave”. In a matter of seconds I received a text message on my phone that I had an appointment at 10:45 a.m., they must have had my name and phone number in their system.
I had a coke to drink while I waited, and there was a man and a woman seated in the lounge who were apparently waiting to get a haircut. In the back, I could see that Matt and Paul were busy with other customers, and so was the barber named Dave. Within a few minutes, I received a text message that my appointment was now being re-scheduled to 11:00 a.m.
At first I was not too annoyed, I was just not very comfortable in this place, I was not seeking this kind of experience, I just wanted a haircut. A customer went and sat at the bar drinking a beer, he told the bartender that his occupation was as a commercial truck driver. Keep in mind that this was now 10:45 a.m. in the morning.
As I continued to wait, I saw a very large message board, where customers had paid in advance for haircuts and pints of beer for the local Catholic Monsignor and Catholic priests. This was very off-putting to me, as I believe that the Catholic Church is probably the most corrupt institution in the World, and each local Monsignor and priest is complicit in this corruption, if not actively involved in molesting children.
I found myself becoming more and more angry, as my re-scheduled appointment time for 11:00 a.m. came and went. I said to the bartender, that I was very angry, I no longer wanted a haircut, and that I would not ever be coming back.
I now think of Matt and Paul Ellerkamp as assholes. This De Porres House of Barbering and Lounge is more like a monument to themselves, and something that arose out of their ego, pride, and arrogance. They went from having a quick, efficient, dependable barber shop, to something that is an impediment and obstacle to getting a haircut.
I would not want this kind of lounge at a car dealer service department, a tire store, an attorney’s office, a dentist’s office, a chiropractor’s office, or any service provider where I came to get something done quickly, competently, and efficiently. Alternatively, why don’t the Paragon, the Spur, the Rock Bar, Bernie’s Esquire Club, and the Eagles Lodge start cutting hair?
If you want to go to a barber shop like the Big Sky Barber Shop used to be, where you can quickly get in and get out with no fuss, I recommend Luke Simons’ Gentlemen’s Barber Shop.