After 42 years in Dinkytown, Milo prepares for his ‘final cut’

Milo David, owner of Milo’s on Fourth barbershop, will be retiring at the end of the month.

Antique barber tools line the wall around the scheduling calendar at Milo’s on 4th. Most of the tools are donations from customers over the years.

Erin Westover

Antique barber tools line the wall around the scheduling calendar at Milo’s on 4th. Most of the tools are donations from customers over the years.

Jennifer Bissell

After 42 years of cutting hair in Dinkytown, Milo David will be retiring at the end of the month.
MiloâÄôs on Fourth barbershop has been a staple in the neighborhood for the past 20 years, housing two of the most legendary barbers in the area for the past decade âÄî Milo David and Dave Watts.
Sitting on an old fashioned barberâÄôs chair, Dean Westergard said heâÄôs been coming to MiloâÄôs every month since he retired 20 years ago.
Noting the beer-can planes and ship, he said he liked the feel of the barbershop. Memories line the wall in the form of old photos and barbersâÄô tools, which were all given to the shop by different customers.
Being a âÄúneighborhood guy,âÄù Westergard said he likes to come to the shop and plans to continue after David retires to Denver.
âÄúI live close and he gives a good haircut,âÄù Westergard said.
With 200 to 300 regular customers over the years, David said heâÄôs enjoyed knowing his customers and it has been difficult to leave.
âÄúItâÄôs fun getting to know them so well,âÄù David said. âÄúI feel like I know them better than my own brother. I see them more often.âÄù
Taking over the ownership of the shop, Detronza Kirksey said he intends to preserve the shopâÄôs style and name.
The 25-year-old man from North Minneapolis graduated from barber school a year ago but had been approached by the shop to buy it while he was working at Cliques Beauty and Barber, also in Dinkytown.
âÄúItâÄôs not normal for something like this to happen,âÄù Kirksey said.
âÄú[But] Milo said, âÄòHelp me. I need you to help me retire,âÄôâÄù he said. âÄúHe canâÄôt retire because his clients wonâÄôt let him.âÄù
At Cliques, Kirksey said he had been able to make a name for himself, gaining a number of âÄúsuperstarâÄù Gopher athletes as his primary clientele.
In addition to KirkseyâÄôs popularity, he also came highly recommended by his mentor at the Moler Barber School of Hair Styling, Terrie Mau. Mau also owned a barbershop in Dinkytown and had urged David to get together with Kirksey.
David said he was happy Kirksey would be keeping the shopâÄôs name. Another buyer had been looking at the shop with plans of ripping it out for a nail salon.
âÄúIâÄôve got a 42-year investment here,âÄù David said. âÄúIf it would have been totally gutted, I would have been like, âÄòOh, thatâÄôs it. ItâÄôs all gone.âÄôâÄù
New ownership
Once Cliques found out Kirksey was planning to buy MiloâÄôs, he said things quickly became tense, leading to his termination.
Kirksey said he felt he was fired because he was buying up the competition, but that his boss said it was because he smoked too much marijuana.
The owner of Cliques was unavailable to comment, as he was on paternity leave.
âÄúEvery kid smokes marijuana,âÄù Kirksey said, saying his customers liked it. âÄúWeâÄôre just little kids.âÄù
David said the drug doesnâÄôt bother him, noting heâÄôs used it too. In the 1960s and âÄô70s Dinkytown was known as a pot smokerâÄôs haven.
âÄúSo what?âÄù David said. âÄúLegalize it. Then it wonâÄôt be a problem.âÄù
However, David also cautioned that there is a fine line Kirksey shouldnâÄôt cross, which is to smoke while he works.
âÄúI donâÄôt think he wants to screw it up,âÄù David said. âÄúHe wants this place, just passionately.âÄù
A broken duo
Working side by side for the majority of their careers in Dinkytown, both David and Watts said theyâÄôd miss each other as David moved on to retirement.
âÄúItâÄôll be different, thatâÄôs for sure,âÄù Watts said. âÄúBut it will be fine.âÄù
The two began working together in the âÄô70s at Dave the Barber barbershop behind Blarney Pub and Grill. Watts, known as âÄúDave the Barber,âÄù has been cutting hair in Dinkytown for 49 years and turns 70 on Monday.
Reminiscing about their early careers, the two laughed about how everyone used to want long hair in the âÄô70s. The shop had even made a killing selling shorthaired wigs for men in the National Guard. The two would fit the wigs over the menâÄôs ponytails so theyâÄôd be able to keep their long locks while off duty.
âÄúItâÄôs been really, really interesting to talk to people,âÄù Watts said. âÄúBefore you know it, you get to meet their girlfriends or boyfriends.âÄù
âÄúThen they have kids and start coming to me with the babies,âÄù he added. âÄúAnd now I have them married and theyâÄôre bringing in their kids.âÄù
David will have a retirement party at the Loring Pasta Bar next month titled, âÄúThe Final Cut.âÄù
âÄúThe parting has not been going real easy,âÄù David said. âÄúThey hate to walk through the door. âÄòMilo, what am I going to do?âÄô IâÄôve heard that so many times.âÄù