Palace Barber Shop is a cut above the rest

Grayson Mandl
Bake Bolen, owner of Palace Barber Shop, gives a customer a hair cut.

Last year, COVID-19 impacted a lot of businesses around town. For Blake Bolen, who owns the Palace Barber Shop, it impacted his business substantially but his customers came back to prove this place was a cut above the rest when all was said and done.

Bolen had to shut down for eight weeks due to the pandemic, leaving his customers without a barber. Without Bolen behind the chair, most resorted to cutting their own hair. After being completely shut down for two months, Bolen was eager to open his doors and get business running. 

The Palace Barber shop was built in the early 1900s, but Bolen took ownership in 2009 when the previous owner retired. Bolen has been the owner for 12 years and he will continue to keep working there for a while. 

When asked what was unique about his business, Bolen said, “It is family friendly and has held up after all these years.” 

When asked what they think about Bolen’s business, an anonymous customer said, “What Blake does with the kids is great; he always finds a way to make them smile and laugh.” 

When asked, what does your business offer to the community, Bolen said, “It offers a friendly service that hopefully makes you feel good about yourself with your new haircut.” 

“During my brother’s haircuts, I could see how much he loved his job and loved talking to people. No matter who walked in the door, he would always greet them and give them a good experience. That is, what I assume, will keep customers coming back.” 

Many people want to leave Pratt to find a good business to start, but Bolen had other ideas. 

“I know I wanted to live back in Pratt,” he said. He was also asked why he wanted to become a Barber, and Bolen said, “I enjoyed the story behind barbers.” 

The customer said, “We love having Blake here. He is one of the many businesses that light up this little town.” 

A typical workday for Bolen is that he goes and walks at 7:30 a.m., answers the phone and cuts hair by appointment times, lunch at noon and home at night around 7 p.m. 

When asked how does living in a small town affect his business, Bolen said, “Knowing almost everyone in town helps. People making conversations with you can sometimes hurt your business (aka rumors).” 

Some of the challenges Bolen faces on a typical work day is dealing with many different types of people. Some are happy, sad, mad and everything in between. He also has a wide range of ages he deals with daily as well. 

Talking about the relationships built with customers, Bolen said, “Some are happy, some are new, some are old relationships over years and some are ruined over various things. You never know what will make or break a relationship in the barbershop during a 15-minute haircut.” 

Many businesses face problems that force them to close down or step down from being the owner. When asked what would he do if this problem happened again, Bolen said, “Luckily enough, my wife has a good job, but there were times in the past that were rough, and you just go to work every day, work hard and keep trying.” 

When asked if he had any advice for anyone who wanted to run their own business, Bolen said, “Do something you want to do every day, have a plan and follow through with it.”