Hair on 5th – Pilot Independent
You could call Paula Yeats, owner of Hair on Fifth, a Walkerite, through and through.
She grew up on a farm outside of Walker and still lives just a quarter mile from where she grew up.
Her dad was a hard-working logger who also ran a sawmill, so there was no need for Paula to find an outside job.
“You were born with one!” she jokes.
After attending Walker-Hackensack School and graduating in 1980, her decision on a career was influenced by several relatives on her mom’s side who are cosmetologists.
“It just seemed like the thing to do,” she says, “so off I went to attend Wadena AVTI for cosmetology, with my best friend, Linda Rosenberry, who was taking a secretarial course.”
After graduating from cosmetology school, she married Art Yeats in 1982. The couple has three children and four grandchildren.
Long before Paula acquired the salon, Hair on Fifth had been a fixture on Walker’s ‘main street,’ Minnesota Avenue, starting with owner Lou Carlson in 1953.
In 1960, Ila Jean Mengis Lusti took over the shop, and Paula worked for Ila from 1987 to 1995. That year, Paula bought the business and moved it to its present location on Fifth Street.
Paula serves the whole family — men, women and children — and has done so for years.
“I’ve been taking care of some of my customers since we were all pretty young!”
She offers the usual range of services: hair cuts, colors, perms, waxings, manicures and pedicures — along with moral support and a sympathetic, listening ear.
“I don’t have a fancy chair, but I give a great foot massage!” she adds.
Over the years, she’s seen hair styles come and go. For example, she doesn’t do nearly as many perms as in the past.
But as for mullets — while some hair styles do circle back, “The mullet is one I hope doesn’t ever come back, please!”
She finds videos are the best way to keep abreast of the latest hair styles and newest techniques today.
And if a customer came in and said, “I’m so tired of my old hair style. I want to try something new!” — she’d start by asking, “What don’t you want your hair style to do? A process of elimination sometimes works better and helps make sure you and your customer are on the same page.”
Paula stays busy year-round, with summer obviously the busiest.
She still enjoys everything about the business but mostly the people she’s met over the years.
“You don’t always get along with everyone, but you still learn from them,” she observes, philosophically.
When COVID-19 arrived in early 2020, it meant “a lot more cleaning and sanitizing, and being more aware of how everyone was feeling. And of course, wearing masks; and then more cleaning.”
She tries not to overlap appointments too much but sometimes it can’t be helped.
“I just try to keep people comfortable. And then — you clean again!”
While Hair on 5th and other hair salons endured COVID’s 2.5 month shutdown this spring, they were not included in the second four week closure that affected bars and restaurants this fall.
“It is so sad to drive by and see them empty; we miss them all!”
As for plans for 2021, “Staying healthy, I guess. And definitely staying up past midnight to make sure 2020 REALLY goes away!” But in reality …
“I think we just need to be patient.”
Hair on Fifth, 204 Fifth St. S., is open Monday through Saturday. Hours are flexible, so call Paula at 547-1612 for an appointment.