Mahomet’s Jeff Frederick is closing in on his 10th anniversary cutting
hair at his shop, “Freddies.” He took over a business which Mike Seten had
operated for 47 years.
Some days the conversation turns to sports.
At other times, it’s about the downtown redevelopment.
Frequently, the focus is on family.
Whatever the topic, it’s all good with Jeff Frederick.
“I have good conversations with people,” Frederick said. “My favorite part is talking with people on a daily basis.”
The opportunities have been plentiful since Frederick purchased Mike Seten’s barber shop. On Oct. 1, Frederick will mark a decade of hair-cutting service in Mahomet.
Though Frederick spent most of his childhood in Mahomet, he transferred to Heritage as a sophomore and graduated from the school in Broadlands in 1998.
He had an idea about his career path.
“Going through school, I’d always cut friends’ hair,” he said. “I wanted to do it, but I didn’t pursue it right away.”
He took classes at Parkland College and was hired at FedEx, where he became a manager.
The desire to cut hair was still strong, “but I was uncertain where I’d work or how to start the business end,” Frederick said. “I didn’t know the right path to take.”
He started working at Lando Place barber shop, on the UI campus, and at the urging of his mother (the former Melody McClain), contacted Seten.
“She said I should see if he needed help,” Frederick recalled.
He left his name and number with Seten and eventually got a response.
“About a year later, he called and said he was thinking of retiring and asked if I was still interested,” Frederick said.
He didn’t need to be asked twice.
Frederick was his own boss during the day, but kept his 5:30-11 p.m. shift at FedEx.
“At first, I was nervous and didn’t think it would be smart to give it up right away,” Frederick said. “I wanted to see if I’d keep a lot of the same clientele (that were regulars with Seten).”
After four years of doing both jobs, he was confident that it would work out, and Frederick went full-time into cutting hair.
His timing was excellent.
Shortly later, J.T. Walker’s Restaurant opened on Main Street and, Frederick said, the downtown scene “has exploded.”
Some days, he observed, “it’s tough to get a parking space. The downtown has really changed.”
Frederick’s shop is on Lincoln Street, but he benefits from the congestion.
“Sometimes people will park here and not even know there was a barber shop here,” he said.
His clientele, he said, is “mostly men and school-age children.”
The requests he receives are pretty routine and he can handle any of them.
“One of the hardest to master is a flat-top,” Frederick said. “The first couple, I had Mike come and school me through it.
“I’ve gotten to the point, after 10 years and cutting them enough that I can do it, but I’m still learning new things and adding to my craft.”
He still keeps in touch with Seten. It’s a necessity.
“He cuts my hair and I do his,” Frederick said. “We trade off. It’s a deal we worked out.”
Seten had his barber shop for 47 years, beginning in 1960.
“I started barber school five days after I got out of high school,” Seten said.
When he opened (near the intersection of Route 47 South and Route 150), his shop was the second in town.
Warren Dunn was located uptown, just south of what is now Darwyn Boston’s State Farm Agency.
“We were competitors, but we were also friends,” Seten said. “We’d go to Wager’s Cafe and drink coffee together.”
He is satisfied in retirement.
“I miss the people,” Seten said, “but I don’t miss the work.” Frederick rents his approximately 400-square foot building from Della Miller, whom he calls, “the greatest landlord.”
He has done as many as 30 cuts in a day and said, “anything more than 20 is a really busy day with not a lot of down time.”
His shop, called Freddie’s” is closed on Sundays and Mondays, open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.
As for his busiest days, Frederick said, “the pattern is there is no pattern.
“I might say Wednesday and Thursday are slow and then the next week, they might be my busiest days. It’s tough to judge.”
Though he has an old-fashioned sign that says, “Shave and haircuts, two bits,” that doesn’t match Frederick’s rates.
“Thirteen dollars for everybody,” he said.
He has no complaints.
“I’m glad I had the other experience (with FedEx) and I’m glad I worked out the timeline the way I did,” Frederick said. “It’s exactly what I need.
Last fall, Freddie’s got some competition when Wicked Rascal opened on Main Street.
Surprisingly, Frederick doesn’t mind.
“Being a lifelong resident, I’m glad Mahomet is to the point it can support two businesses like that.
“They have the ability to handle more people. It can work out well for both of us. My customers have stayed loyal.”
Some of those customers are no longer who they used to be.
“I’ve seen some kids grow up and go all the way through high school,” Frederick said. “At the end of the day, I’m happy this worked out.
“I love being in the community and meeting new people all the time as well as the same customers.”
If he has any down time, Frederick has satellite radio and the daily newspaper to keep him company.
He’s not only on his feet throughout the work day, but often when he’s away from the job.
An avid runner, Fredrick broke his personal-best by 10 minutes last month in the Mahomet Half-Marathon, posting a time of 1 hour 37 minutes.
“I try to do one marathon and one or two halfs a year,” Frederick said. “I like to be training for something.”
That fits with his lifestyle. Some days Frederick cuts hair. Some days he cuts time.
Fred Kroner, who covered sports for the News Gazette until his retirement in 2016, is now the editor of the Mahomet Citizen. Fred, who grew up in Mahomet, enjoys spending time with his wife, who also recently opened Lucky Moon Pies and More.