Barb Rizor

Barb Rizor plans to sell her house and leave behind her salon, which she kept for nearly 45 years of her 55 year career in beauty. (Ben Farniok/Le Sueur News-Herald)

With Barb Rizor’s retirement ends more than a half-century of hair-dressing tradition.

She plans to leave the business June 30th.

Rizor’s work is her passion, but she decided to try and spend more time with her family out in Colorado.

“I loved it,” she said. “I just loved it from the very beginning.”

Half-retired for about a decade, Rizor has continued to take her regular stable of customers into her basement salon, where she has worked since 1974.

Rizor said that her clients have been coming to her for a long time, and the youngest ones are in their 50s and 60s. She said that wealth of experience, having a clientele largely near her own age, but slightly older, was a boon throughout her career.

Rizor wasn’t born in Le Sueur, but she had moved here at an early age with her father Roman Stumpf in 1953.

As a sophomore at Le Sueur High School, Rizor said she had dreamed of being a hairdresser on an ocean liner, though she ultimately went for a land-locked operation instead.

Once she graduated from high school, Rizor struck out into the world in and graduated from the St. Cloud Beauty School in 1964.

For eight years, she worked at various beauty salons and shops around St. Louis Park and the Twin Cities. But eventually, she made her way back to Le Sueur where she would raise a family.

By the time she made it back home, she had also decided that she was done taking orders. She was going to run a salon all of her own.

“I didn’t want to work for anyone else,” she said.

Thus, Rizor’s basement turned into a one-chair salon, complete with mirrors, hair curlers and a variety of other equipment.

She spent time taking classes and learning about new techniques before she would apply them in her blue-walled basement salon.

She said the salon had been a perfect set up because it also allowed her to easily take care of her two kids, able to jump between her professional and personal life at the drop of a hat.

After her kids grew and left the house, she said they would come back and mention they could still smell some of the chemicals involved with the process.

Her business went from featuring the old-school hair-dryers and curlers to the new-school techniques of using a curling iron and a handheld hair-dryer.

While she had picked up new techniques, eventually new trends for hair moved away from what her customers wanted. She said that the new trends for dying hair a range of colors weren’t desirable to her clients, so she decided to stick with the classics.

Growing up, Rizor said she always told her friends that she planned to work until she was 85 years old.

But, when her 72nd birthday rolled around, she said she had second thoughts. After all, 13 years was a long way away. Still, she said she loves the work and feels a little weird about leaving it behind as she enters retirement.

“It’s a real, real bittersweet feeling about not working anymore,” she said.

But she leaves a legacy in Le Sueur. Beth Skelly, an assistant manager at Headline Plus, said Rizor had been a big reason she decided to become a hairdresser.

When she was young, Skelly said her mother would frequent Rizor’s salon and take Skelly along. Skelly said she would sit in basement, watching Rizor fix up people’s haircuts and greet everyone who stopped by, sometimes for hours.

When she was older, she shadowed Rizor and against watched how she did business.

“She made it look just magical,” Skelly said.

Reporter Ben Farniok can be reached at 507-931-8576 or follow him on Twitter @LNHben.

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