WHEATLAND – Fifteen years and thousands of haircuts have been provided at Lou’s Barber Shop just across the tracks from the downtown shops of Wheatland.
Linda “Lou” Hughes opened her shop Nov. 22, 2005, at 75 East Gilchrist Street and has been known for her special giveaway prize to one lucky customer of free haircuts for a year. This year Patrick Kernan was the grand prize winner and will be frequenting Lou’s during the next 12 months.
When you walk into the shop, you get an established barber who has been at the same place for 15 years, you get a community of those who have made Lou’s their home and you get a very upbeat woman who is like a ray of positive sunshine whether it’s raining or snowing or “Wyoming winding.” Customers can always expect that “Linda Lou smile,” and an infectious positive attitude.
“My clientele is mostly male,” Hughes said. “I used to do ladies hair years ago but it’s too stressful. You know, because we can just cut and they can be on their way. There’s no curling or styling.”
Hughes attended barber college in Tuscon, Ariz.
“My sister and I both went to barber college,” she said, pointing out a picture of her and her sister. “And we used to have long hair, down to there,” as she pointed out hair to their beltline in the photo. “It took us a year or so, and then we came back to Wyoming and my sister has a barber shop in Jackson.”
Reid Sanderson, president of the Wyoming barber board who owned Reid’s Teton Barber Shop in Jackson since 1974 and owned that shop until he passed in 1993 was instrumental in Hughes’ early entry into the actual workplace after college.
“I loved him,” she said. “When we came back from college, we took our state barber exam and he said, ‘well if you girls are lookin’ for a job, come up to Jackson and we’ll get you both a job. So, I worked for him and she worked at the Snow King.”
In her Wheatland shop is one of her prize possessions. It is Reid Sanderson’s chair that he’d given so many haircuts in. It’s almost as if his presence and expertise is in Platte County.
Hughes then moved to Sheridan due to a warmer climate while her sister stayed in Jackson.
“I was born and raised here,” Hughes said. “My father’s family homesteaded south of Glendo. My cousin still owns that.”
She is a 1974 graduate of Guernsey-Sunrise High School and proclaims proudly that she is a Viking. After high school Hughes went to Chadron College in Nebraska where she had a scholarship and majored in vocal music.
“I had a four-octave range,” Hughes said. “It was wonderful and I loved it, but after two years of school, I just didn’t want to be a teacher. We actually had a band in Guernsey when I was in high school. It was a rock and roll band and I sang a lot of Carole King and Carley Simon, and you know… from the day.”
Hughes’ other passion in her life right now is her 2-year-old chocolate lab, Lexi who is present in the shop for every haircut that is given and acts as a greeter to the customers who come in.
One of her favorite things about cutting hair is when she cuts their hair in a new and different style and she says that they look in the mirror at themselves differently. She is about making people feel good about themselves and the way they look.
“It’s kind of a psychological uplift,” she said. “And also, it’s our conversation that we have in here. We have a lot of fun, but lately, way too much politics. I get a heavy dose.”
For a small shop, Hughes is established, and she says that she has a pretty good clientele but hit a rough patch when COVID-19 hit and the salons and barber shops were closed.
“I was quarantined for seven weeks,” she said. “I am masked, but people that don’t want to wear the mask even though the governor mandated it, turned on their heels and walked away. And I ran after them and said, ‘please don’t leave, come back, I will wear the mask you don’t have to’ because I can’t afford to have that happen.”
To schedule an appointment with Linda Lou, you can call (307) 322-8113 or you can walk right in. Lou’s hours are Monday, Wednesday and Thursday 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Tuesdays they are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Hughes is closed each day from 2-3 p.m.