Neal the Barber, a hair cutting institution in the Battle Ground area for over 50 years, has moved to a new location and is now open for business at 711 NE First St., Battle Ground.
Neal Blomquist, 80, has cut hair at 301 W. Main St. for the past 21 years, joined 11 years ago by his son Brad. Expecting to be busy as they work to catch up, both barbers are now working six days a week.
The new shop is set up to conform to social distancing standards, with barber chairs 6 feet apart, and six waiting chairs also 6 feet apart. Both barbers wear masks and “invisible gloves” which is a disinfecting cream applied every four hours. Customers are not required to wear masks but any customer showing symptoms of the coronavirus will be asked to return at a later date. Hand sanitizing supplies are available as customers enter the shop.
Neal Blomquist, a native of Maryland, began cutting hair in 1968 at a shop in the Duluth area west of Battle Ground, having completed nine months of training at Moler Barber College in Vancouver. He had previously worked in construction.
Seven years later in 1974, Blomquist bought a barbershop business at Parkway and Main in Battle Ground. After another seven years, he moved again, this time just across the same intersection to a shop on the southwest corner of Parkway and Main. Then in the late 1990s, he moved into a building occupied in part by Battle Ground Auto License near Burgerville and Battle Ground High School. Expansion of the Auto License business into the space occupied by Neal the Barber has caused Blomquist to make this latest move.
Blomquist said that his new shop, located near the Jackson, Jackson and Kurtz law office, is about 25 percent bigger than his prior location and provides space not only for two barber chairs and equipment, but also for more waiting chairs and Blomquist’s beloved Lazy Boy recliner.
Blomquist has cut hair in the Battle Ground area continuously since 1968 except for a five-year period when he “retired” and went into the mail order business. It was the lack of contact with his clientele that led him to return to barbering.
Blomquist maintains a card file record of the type of cut each customer prefers. He provides a neck massage with each cut. Friendly conversation about current events and historical memories are also part of the experience at this shop. Brad Blomquist said discussions of religion and politics are also welcome.
Blomquist and his wife, Irma, have three children and “20-plus” grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
“Grandparent-hood is the best hood in town,” he said.
Brad Blomquist, 56, also moved from construction and operating heavy equipment into barbering. He attended Vancouver Barber College and joined his father in about 2009. Brad and his wife, Carol, have six children and three grandchildren.
Brad also cuts and sells firewood.
Neal the Barber is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m., and Saturday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. The shop is closed for lunch 12:30-2 p.m. each day. The shop can be reached at (360) 687-5687.
Learn more online at https://www.bestprosintown.com/wa/battle-ground/neals-barbershop-/.