In a ‘snip,’ Lola Baum’s 40-plus-year career is over
Brandon woman closes doors to longtime hair salon
May 12. 2014 7:46AM
Lola Baum gave a very special haircut last week.
While the April 28 haircut was likely no different than the thousands and thousands she’s given over the last 40 years in her quaint salon, The New You, it was a haircut she’ll long remember.
It was the last official cut she did before officially packing up her scissors and 40 years of memories in the hair salon business in Brandon.
“In lots of ways, it went so fast,” says the 67-year-old Baum. “And these last weeks have been so much fun. My clients are happy for me, but so many are wondering, ‘what do I do now?’ ”
Baum’s near 48-year career as a hair stylist began in the early 1970s, and a year after she and husband Mike – just newlyweds themselves – moved to Brandon in 1973, she opened her own shop. The last 37 of her 40 years in business as The New You were spent in her shop at 1320 E. Rushmore Drive.
“Apparently,” she says with a grin, “I don’t like change.”
Turns out, some of longtime, loyal customers, like Dorothy Lemonds aren’t keen on change either.
Lemonds has been client of Baum’s all 40 years of her career here in Brandon.
“I had been going to that shop before (she owned it),” Lemonds recalled. “I think it was her aunt, the gal who had been doing my hair, and she got sick. Lola was filling in for her to start with, but then her aunt didn’t come back, and I’ve been with her ever since.”
Baum remembers the day Lemonds first walked into the shop.
“She started with me about two weeks after I had been in Brandon,” she said. “And last week, was her last appointment with me.”
Like many of her clients, Lemonds admits she wasn’t eager to hear about Baum’s retirement.
“I knew it was happening, but I’m very unhappy I have to switch. She’s always done a good job, and knows what my hair will do and what my hair won’t do,” she said. “And I felt like we were friends. I heard about her kids and she heard about mine.”
“People share a lot with us,” Baum says of hairstylists. “We really get to know them and their families.”
And it’s those relationships she’s formed with her clients, Baum says, that she’ll miss the most.
“The people,” she says fondly. “The people of Brandon are wonderful, and not just Brandon, but Sioux Falls and people that come from Iowa, Dell Rapids and even Madison.”
For the most part, Baum has been a one-woman show at The New You. Over the years, however, other stylists have worked alongside her.
“I’ve pretty much been on my own, and definitely for the last year, knowing I was going to retire, I was on my own; I just hadn’t come up with a date yet,” says Baum, who considered calling it quits at the end of last year.
“But I wasn’t ready to quit yet,” she confesses.
Now she is.
“We’re getting into summer and there are so many things I like to do in the summer,” she said, listing camping, fishing, spending time at the lake, gardening and yard work.
“I decided I wouldn’t have so much ‘withdrawals’ (retiring from the business) in the summertime than in the winter.”
While it’s been important to keep up on the latest hair styles, trends, techniques and products, Baum said it was equally important to be a good listener and friend to her clients.
“There was never one day that I got up in the morning and said I didn’t want to go to work,” she said.
As Baum looks back on her 40-plus year career as a hair stylist and business owner, she finds it hard to believe that she’s lasted this long in the industry.
“I’ve always liked to do hair,” she said. “But when I went to beauty school, this was not something I thought I’d still be doing today.”
The trade often comes with long days on your feet and tired arms, she says.
“But you do build a lot of upper body strength,” she adds.
While Baum won’t be taking appointments for cuts, colors or perms any longer, one of the vanities from her shop will be taking up residency in the basement of her Brandon home. She’s been the family stylist, which includes husband, Mike, two sons – Shannon and Travis (wife, Kris), and four grandchildren, Jenny, Christian, Wyatt and Peyton.
“I really want to continue that,” she says. “It gives me the chance to get one on one time with the grandchildren.”
“She can still cut my hair,” tosses in granddaughter, Jenny, a senior at Brandon Valley High. “It’s been very nice, very convenient.”
Mike Baum says he hasn’t had a haircut from anyone in the couple’s near 48 years of marriage.
“The last haircut I had was by a barber in the shop next to hers,” he said. “I came out of there and she said, ‘Who cut your hair?’ ”
In addition to the gardening, fishing and spending time on the shores of a South Dakota lake, for the first time in 40 years, Baum has a weekday “social” calendar.
“I don’t know if this is bad or not,” she shares. “But I went to lunch Wednesday and have lunch plans for Friday. Is that a bad thing, because I’m starting to see a pattern there.”
In the final days leading up to closing the book on this chapter of her life, Baum said clients surprised her with a variety of gifts – flowers, wine, gift certificates – along with plenty of kind words, hugs and even a few tears.
“You think it’s just a job,” Baum says, “but it’s so much more.”