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Elite Barber Shop passes to new generation

In 2022, Orville Christianson decided it was time to retire
Orville and Jason Christianson stand in front of Longmont's oldest business

Elite Barber Shop was established in 1872 and is likely the oldest business in Longmont. Orville Christianson bought the barber shop, located at 339 Main St., in 1972. When he retired, he sold the business to his grandson who plans to keep the place going.

Orville Christianson moved to Colorado in 1970. He had been a barber previous to moving but was unable to practice in Colorado until he obtained a license. He worked as a welder for a few years until his license came through and began working part-time at a shop in Golden. 

A friend of his suggested he talk to the owners of Elite Barber Shop about a job. Orville Christianson did and within a few years was presented with an opportunity to buy the place.

In the 1970s barber shops in the area struggled to stay open, Orville Christianson said. He attributed the closures to the trend that more men were growing their hair out long. He said that during that time, barber shops would refuse to cut men’s long hair. Orville Christianson said it was a difficult thing to adapt to but he knew he needed to to save his business. 

Learning to cut longer hair was not the only adaptation Orville Christianson had to make to keep the doors open. He added more chairs to the shop and had a shoe-shining chair to draw in a crowd. 

In the early years of his business, the majority of his clients were farmers, he said. At the time a friend of his suggested he watch how the farmers’ crop did for that season before raising the price for services. Orville Christianson decided against the advice and learned that as long as he kept it reasonable, people understood that he had to make periodic price adjustments. 

Jason Christianson, Orville’s grandson, grew up hanging out at the barbershop. He used to watch his grandfather and father cut hair and get to know the people in town. Visiting his grandfather’s shop became one of his fondest memories, he said. 

In 2022, Orville Christianson decided it was time to retire and began searching for a new owner for the shop. Jason Christianson jumped at a chance to keep the shop in his family and bought it from his grandfather. 

Jason Christianson lives in California due to the location of his job. He left the management of the shop to his father. Jason Christianson doesn’t plan to change anything at the shop. He feels it should always be a place where those who want to pursue a career in barbering can do so and make a fair wage. He also believes that those who enjoy barbering services should be able to enjoy the long traditions and environment the over 150-year-old business has always offered in Longmont. 


Macie May

About the Author: Macie May

Macie May has built her career in community journalism serving local Colorado communities since 2017.
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