GREAT FALLS — When you first walk into the Holiday Barber Shop at 1100 Ninth Street South in Great Falls, a sense of comfort overtakes you. Pictures of various themes from drawings of cheetahs to newspaper clippings line the walls in gold and wooden frames while a single barber chair and a seat in the shape of a red car greets you on the opposite side.
“I’ve been a barber for nearly 60 years, been at this shop for 40. I’ve never known or wanted to know anything different,” said Jim Christiaens, the owner of the shop.
Jim grew up on a farm outside of Valier. He explained that his mother would take him into Conrad to get haircuts, and he described the experience as magical. “I told my mother that, you know, when I grow up, I’m going to be a barber. And she said, you can be anything you want.”
He attended barber school in the 1964. After more than 1,000 hours of clipping hair and six months of hard work, Jim made his way to Great Falls.
There, he worked at a shop at Malmstrom Air Force Base for nearly 10 years and eventually made his way into the Holiday Village Mall.
When rent prices became too high for him and his business partner to afford, he found his way to his current shop that he has individually owned for over 40 years along 9th Street South.
His daughter Jamala visited the shop in a day-trip to Great Falls. She began pointing out various pictures and sharing stories of the memories that they held.
A particular glass display with a clown statue and an old photo of her dad dressed up as a clown in front of his barber chair prompted Jamala to recall: “I think the best memory I have is the crazy days at the mall when he would dress up as a clown and then cut hair as a clown every day, you know, all day long. That was amazing. That was so much fun.”
Jim says he’s lucky to have found his passion early in his life, explaining, “If you like what you’re doing, it’s not a job.”
When asked if he has plans on retirement, he simply shook his head with a big grin on his face. “Where these 60 years have gone, I don’t know. Maybe one day I will retire but not yet. I just take it one day at a time. One day at a time.”
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