EVERETT — Longtime downtown hairdresser Barbie Fraker is closing up her shop this summer and selling the building.
Fraker has run Barbie’s Hairstyling for two decades, initially out of a rented shop on Broadway, then in the small single-story building at 2531 Wetmore Ave., for the past 13 years.
Fraker, 49, isn’t hanging up the clippers quite yet. She’s long made a practice of picking up appointments or making house calls — serving clients who are elderly, disabled or just not mobile enough to come into the shop on their own.
She’ll keep that client list as she downsizes her business. While she’s had 30 people working for her or renting chairs in her shop over the years, her last employee retired a year ago.
Fraker has rheumatoid arthritis and has been sick for the past four years, she said.
She is back on her feet thanks to medication, but she decided that dialing back the business was the best thing she could do for herself.
“Right now, my health and a place to live is the most important thing,” Fraker said.
Fraker started out in hairdressing right after graduating from Everett High School. She went to the now-closed Crown School of Hair Design, where an instructor tipped her off to a job opening with the Coast Guard.
“They asked me, ‘Can you use clippers?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ They said, ‘Can you be here at 8 a.m.?’ ”
That first job turned into a job with the Navy, and before long Fraker was going into business for herself.
She made $67 her first week.
Perhaps because her father was older and she grew up around his friends at the V.F.W. hall, much of her clientele were of older generations.
When she opened her first business, she said, she was soon doing patients’ hair in the hospital and rehab centers.
Over the years, her clientele has been a mix of longtime friends and downtown personages.
She cut one man’s hair for six years, at $5 per cut, and he later sold her the building she now occupies.
Mary Ellen Egge- Brothers, a longtime banker with Everett Trust and Savings Bank and one of the first in the county to run an all-woman branch, was a regular client for more than 12 years who came in every Friday after work.
Egge-Brothers only missed one appointment, Fraker said, her last one. Egge-Brothers died June 5 at 93.
When the old Elk’s Lodge closed in 2008, Fraker rented space to the lodge’s resident barber, Albert Greso. When he died a short time later, many of his clients stayed on at Barbie’s.
Those clients have included Snohomish County Treasurer Kirke Sievers, former Port of Everett Commissioner Don Hopkins and real estate attorney Deane Miner, who is helping her sell the building, she said.
Selling the building and another property she owns in the Silver Lake neighborhood will enable her to pay down her mortgage and reduce her workload.
“I’m not rich by any means, but what I’ve done is taken that $20 at a time and bought real estate,” she said.
For now, she’ll probably remain open until the building is sold. But to cap off a long career in downtown Everett, she plans to be outside the shop July 4, giving out free hot dogs to all comers during the city’s parade, at least as long as the hot dogs last.
“We’re thanking the community for letting us be here for this long,” she said.
Chris Winters: 425-374-4165; firstname.lastname@example.org.