OREGON – Cherie Slack was doing what she has done for 35 years – cutting someone’s hair.
But she was also doing something that she has never done – talking about retirement.
“Thirty-five years, kid, I’m done,” she said with a laugh when asked why she is retiring. “I’m 66. I had Erin to take over for me.”
That is Erin Dietrich, who will take over the space occupied by Slack’s Short Cut Barber Shop in Oregon on Nov. 3.
Slack started her career in 1986 at her home in Leaf River. She moved to Mount Morris in 1988 and finally to Oregon in 2011.
“I had not planned on anyone taking over for me, I was just going to close,” Slack said. “Then Erin came along.”
Dietrich said she has known Slack for years.
“She’s been a longtime family friend, barber,” she said, adding that Slack cut the hair of her dad and brother.
Dietrich said in 2018 Slack mentioned that Dietrich should consider taking over the shop. She said last year she had to “hit the reset button” and talked with her parents about the offer.
Dietrich said she attended Tricoci University of Beauty Culture in Rockford, graduating in September.
“I’m brand new to the game,” she said with a smile.
But she will come in with a fresh look and name for the business. Dietrich is a U.S. Army veteran, serving as a military police officer and paratrooper. She said she served tours in Kosovo and Afghanistan.
Dietrich said she plans to honor her service and the service of others at her new Patriot Barber Shop. She said the décor will include photos of military members and veterans from the area.
She said she is most nervous about trying to fill Slack’s shoes.
“I know her, and I have a lot of respect for what she’s done all these years,” Dietrich said.
Slack said she is hoping to do some camping in retirement and also some volunteer work.
“I intend on volunteering at Serenity House,” she said.
Slack said the hardest part will be leaving the clients and friends she has made over the years.
“Visiting with my clients,” she said when asked what she would miss. “My buddies, my friends. They are all my friends.”
Just in case she gets the itch, there will be a station in the new Patriot Barber Shop ready for Slack.
“She’s not leaving me, that’s how I feel about it,” Dietrich said.
So, how often will Slack stop by to cut hair?
“Hopefully not every week!” she said with a laugh.
The business will continue accepting walk-in customers. The hours will be Tuesday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday will be by appointment only.