Ken Fransen Jr.’s father used to ride a horse to work.
While he uses a more modern form of transport to get to work, Fransen is continuing the tradition his father started in 1964.
is celebrating its 20th anniversary in Woodbury from Oct. 15-21. Fransen’s father founded the original Maple Leaf in Maplewood—hence the name.
In the shop on Tuesday, Fransen was cutting Bob Brunkan’s hair in the same barber’s chair his father used. There are still leather straps attached to the chair for sharpening straight-edge razors.
“Lots of businesses here have come and gone, and we have a commitment to the community and have been able to stick around,” Fransen said.
That link with the community, he said, began two decades ago when Maple Leaf started sponsoring local youth hockey teams. Many of the players got their haircuts at the shop, and now “we’re cutting their kids’ hair,” Fransen said.
Kim Lusti became a co-owner of Maple Leaf Family Hair Care in 1999. She remembers being interviewed for a job as a stylist in 1991.
“They asked if I could cut hair. I said yes. They said, ‘When can you start?’” Lusti said.
Maple Leaf, which as always been at , will recognize the 20-year anniversary with deals and giveaways and cupcakes and refreshments, Lusti said.
The reason the salon has been successful?
“We cut your hair like it’s our own,” Lusti said.
Stylist Mara Doppler chimed in: “We get mad if you mistreat your hair.”
Many of the Maple Leaf customers are regulars, Lusti said, and there’s a mix of men and women who come in.
Fransen said NFL lineman Matt Birk used to get his hair cut there, and has been coming in “since the beginning.”
“We’re probably the original barbershop,” Fransen said.
Things have changed over the years, however. Most notably the hairstyles.
“Long to short, back to long again—and there were the mullets,” Fransen said.
At Maple Leaf on Tuesday, Lusti had dug up an old newspaper clipping with a picture of Fransen with a mullet.
“My rock star days,” he said.
Customer Katie Thalberg has been coming to Maple Leaf for about a year—initially because Doppler had an opening.
“She’s fun and she does an excellent job,” Thalberg said.
Fransen thanked Woodbury residents for their support over the years, and said he plans to keep it up.
“For a few more years now, but not many,” he said.