Beloved barber Doug Fransen returns to Wooten Barber Shop after medical leave

Nahiyan Khan, News Reporter

Longtime clients flocked to get their hair cut by beloved barber Doug Fransen following his return to the Wooten Barber Shop this week after a month-and-a-half of medical leave.

Fransen has worked at the shop, located on the Drag, since 2017 and said he is glad to be back at work. 

“This is a sweet spot for me,” Fransen said. “This is a home away from home.”

Fransen was unexpectedly admitted to the hospital Jan. 25 due to a lower bowel obstruction and received surgery, forcing him to take time off work. Doug’s absence left a void in the student community, as students would regularly stop by and ask how he was doing, Wooten barber Don Stafford said. While his loyal clients awaited his return, barbers James Nelson, Ralph Torres Jr., and Stafford filled in during Fransen’s recovery.

“Doug’s my barber,” Italian studies sophomore Nick Walsh said. “With the funniest Minnesota accent, he tells all these stories about his young times in Minnesota and gives me a good haircut. I just have a great half-an-hour experience with the dude and talk to him about life.”

Before joining the Wooten Barber Shop, known to students as “The Woo,” Fransen grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he was first introduced to the trade and started cutting hair in 1987.

“My dad had been cutting hair since 1952, and all my other brothers were barbers prior to me,” Fransen said. “It was a family tradition.”

The bond between barber and client has kept students coming back to Wooten year after year, Fransen said.  

“It just shows that (if) you stay dedicated and you do what’s right — not just do a good job — but it’s (also about) personality and caring about people,”  Fransen said. “It’s not just what you’re getting for your college degree, I care about what you do for your life.”

The shop set up a sign at the store with Fransen’s venmo, @Douglas-Fransen, after several customers asked if they could help with the cost of his medical care. Fransen said he set up a GoFundMe on Thursday.

“I really thought I’d never see this place again,” Fransen said. “I really had a spiritual experience. … I didn’t think I was going to open my eyes again, but when I did, I said, ‘I’m definitely going to see things through a new pair of glasses.’”

Editor’s note: This story originally appeared in the March 4, 2022 flipbook.