If you need to find Dick Sheets, he probably can be found at the same place he’s been most days for the last 66 years: at the barber shop and western store on Tekamah’s Main Street.
It can be easy to count that many people as your friends when you’ve been a fixture in the community as long as Sheets. He came to Tekamah in the fall of 1947 to work for local barber Fred Kjeldgaard before going out on his own two years later. He’s been here ever since.
“I never thought I’d be here this long,” he said. “Coming to town every morning has been like starting a vacation. You never know what will happen, but it’s usually something great. It’s all because of the customers.”
Sheets has lived in the area all his life. Born and raised in the Herman area, he said he got into barbering with the help of a teacher at Herman High where he graduate in 1947. “She always called me by my last name,” he said. “One day she said ‘Sheets, what are you going to do?’ I told her I had no idea, I said I wanted to work where you could wear clean clothes in the morning and still be clean when you went home at night.”
She suggested barbering. He thought that was a good idea and she gave him an application to an Omaha barber school two weeks later. He started classes right after his graduation. Coming to Tekamah was an easy choice for him. He met his wife, Marge, here at a football game. He said he still loves the community and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.
In 1949, Sheets left Kjeldgaard’s employ and went to work for himself, taking over Ne Sackett’s shop in the basement of the old Burt County State Bank building. Fortune smiled on him again a few years later when Fred Garner provided him with a building too big for only a barber shop and went looking for other business opportunities. After selling shoes for a while, he and Marge started adding Western apparel. The store flourished. Additional outlets were opened in Omaha and Norfolk, which were run by family members for over a decade. The family’s involvement with horses only helped grow the business. It also helped add to the family’s most treasured possession: the friendships they’ve made over the years.
The store now regularly draws business from several states and has several multi-generational customers. Among the more notable customers, Ben Nelson stopped in the local store while he was governor and Johnny Cash once shopped at the Omaha store.“We get all kinds of people,” he said. “There’s only one reason for it, we’re right in the middle of the greatest area in the world.”
Sheets gives credit to his family for making everything possible. “Family and friends mean more than anything,” he said. “We are an awfully close family. If some promotion was going on, Marge was usually responsible for it.”
When he started in the business, haircuts were 50 cents. A price increase to 55 cents was met with some resistance. “They thought that was outrageous,” he grinned. But he still had customers. Before safety razors became popular, most men were shaved at barber shops because it was easier for a skilled person to handle the straight razor.
At one time, most of the football and basketball players at Dana College got their haircuts from Sheets, as did players from the surrounding communities. Many still come to the shop for a haircut. “I didn’t cut everybody’s hair, but I cut hair for a lot of them,” he said. “Now we get people bringing in their kids and grandkids.”
Although Sheets stopped barbering in 1975, he hasn’t strayed from the store that’s been his livelihood for the past 60 years. He and Marge sold both the barbershop and the western store to his sons, Greg and Floyd and their families several years ago, but both his sons still can be found inside practically every day. He has no plans to be anywhere anytime soon. “I’ll be here till they kick me out,” he said with the smile that greets everyone who enters the store. “I hope they don’t. I enjoy the people too much.”