Joe's Barbershop on 5th Street

Earlier today, while working on an assignment for school, I stumbled across a neat little barbershop in the west end of Winona. The shop's name was Joe's Barbershop on 5th Street.

I was working on an assignment for a class, but I tend to use those opportunities to just shoot for myself. I try to shoot what I want. It was really quite nice. No looming deadline and no real pressure.

It was a nice break from my usual assignments, which lately have included a lot of prep sports and searching for wild art. Don't get me wrong, I love shooting those assignments, but it was nice to shoot something on my own terms.

All images ©Joe Ahlquist

Anyways, back to the story. I walked in to Joe Hoese's shop, introduced myself and asked if it would be alright if I hung out, took some photos and asked some questions. He told me that would be no problem and I asked his first customer if that was alright, and he had no problem with it.

So, armed with nothing more than my D300, my 24mm f/2.8 and a 35mm f/1.8, I started making photos. After making a few photos I overheard Hoese's customer talking about grouse hunting, which, being from northern Minnesota, was something I'm quite familiar with. So, we started talking about that.  Pretty soon Hoese's first customer was done and he was gone.

Next in line was Quinten Cole, and he was a very interesting man.


Cole worked for the forestry service for 31 years, and worked in four different states; Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho and New Mexico. He had some interesting stories about flying around and looking for people having illegal campfires during dry seasons.

Cole also claimed to be the oldest person to ride in the Habitat 500, which is a 500 mile bike ride benefiting the Habitat for Humanity.

He then explained that he had Parkinson's disease during the ride, but didn't know it then. Cole had since had some operations, which had helped him a lot, he said.  

Pretty soon though Cole was all payed up and headed out the door.

After Cole left I got a chance to ask Hoese some questions about how he got his start. 

He told me that he wasn't always a barber. Hoese was an airplane mechanic, he told me, but the October after September 11th he was laid off. He explained that he worked some odd jobs to scrape by, but the economy was tough.

In 2003 he went to barber school at the Minnesota School of Barbering in Minneapolis. After completing school he got his first job at Dick's Sports Barbers in Edina, Minn., which he explained was voted best barbershop in Edina quite a few times.

In 2005 Hoese opened up his shop in Winona.

Anyways, it was a really cool experience. It was nice to go into a place like Hoese's barbershop with no expectations, and to meet such interesting and nice people. So far in my short career as a photojournalist that has been my favorite part. Meeting new and interesting people, and this was another great example of meeting nice, interesting, people.