Collins carries on family's 'hairy' tradition

Elmer Collins went to work at the barber shop on the north side of the square in Broken Bow, in April 1951. Sixty years later the shop remains in the family, with Elmer’s granddaughter now at the helm. Jamie Collins took over Ache & Pain April 1, 2009, when her aunt - Elmer’s daughter - Patty Knoell retired. Like Patty, Jamie has lived her entire life in Broken Bow and literally grew up at the shop. Elmer purchased the barber shop in 1955, along with the building that houses it. Patty joined her father in the business in 1981, working on a part-time basis. The father and daughter worked side-by-side in the business for the next 27 years, until Elmer passed away in November 2008. Shortly after the death of her father, Patty made the decision to retire. “This was something Dad and I did together,” Patty told the Chief in a previous interview. “I always knew that I would quit when he did. I just didn’t know when that would be.” The fact that a third generation family member showed interest in taking over the business made Patty’s decision to leave much easier. A 2004 graduate of Broken Bow High School, Jamie attended beauty school in Grand Island and Kearney. Jamie says as a result of growing up with a family barber shop she has been doing hair since she was about 12-years-old. However, it was a couple of years out of high school before she decided to pursue it as a career. Jamie’s father, Stan, used to shine shoes at his father’s shop when he was a boy. Patty always said she seemed the most unlikely member of the family to take over the business, as her brother and sister both spent much more time there growing up than she did. She says her relationship with her father was somewhat strained when she was younger, and the years they spent working together gave them the opportunity to heal that relationship. Jamie says working in her grandfather’s shop has always been a vision in the back of her mind. At the time she finished beauty school, Elmer and Patty were both still working and were not looking for another employee. With Elmer’s death, Jamie’s time had come. Jamie admits she was a bit anxious about taking over the well-established business and maintaining the reputation her grandfather had worked so hard to build. “It’s really exciting and kind of scary to carry on this family tradition,” said Jamie. It has been nearly two years since Jamie took over at the shop, and she says she has enjoyed it immensely. She still sees many of the same customers her grandfather and aunt cared for, and has added a new clientele of her own. Ache & Pain is open Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to noon. Jamie will also stay open later in the evening for appointments. “It doesn’t seem like I have been here that long already,” says Jamie. “I enjoy it very much. I feel very fortunate to be here.” EDITOR’s NOTE:***** For more Progress 2011, Business & Industry stories this week's Custer County Chief.