MANDAN, N.D. (AP) — Kathy Eckroth and Elaine Berger will miss their clients.

They’ve seen generations of them.

The two Mandan hairdressers closed their salon, Hair 2000, on March 19. They’re retiring after 48 years working together — the last 20 as business partners — feeling the time had come.

“It’s been a wonderful ride, there was no doubt about it,” said Eckroth, 68.

“It’s been quite a journey,” said Berger, 69.

Berger started her career in 1970. She met Eckroth while working at Ray’s Beauty Center in Mandan, where Eckroth started in 1972.

“From there it was history,” Berger told The Bismarck Tribune.

The two opened Hair 2000 in 2000 in Mandan.

They still have clients from their early years, including children who are now adults in their 50s.

“We’ve had generations of families, which is nice,” Berger said. “We did their great-grandparents and their grandparents years ago when we first started and went through the whole family with them. … After 50 years, you’ve seen a lot and enjoyed a lot.”

“We’re going to miss everybody,” Eckroth said. “You feel like you’re leaving family.”

She has served Helen Hellman since she first started out.

“I went to her for a long, long, long, long, long time,” said Hellman, 87, who lives west of Mandan.

She enjoyed visiting the hairdressers’ salon and appreciated how they tended to clients.

“Whatever (the client) wanted to do with their hair, they’d attempt it and always ended up doing it better than they thought it was going to be,” she said.

She called Eckroth “the nicest person and just like a sister to me.”

“We always appreciated their services,” said Hellman, who has an offer from a friend to visit her salon now that Hair 2000 has closed.

Terry Meyer, of Mandan, isn’t sure what salon she will go to now that Hair 2000 has closed.

“That is a good question,” she said.

She was neighbors with Eckroth for years and has gone to her for more than 20 years. She called the longtime hairdressers “just good people.”

“To be able to work for that many years is incredible in itself,” Meyer said.

Eckroth said she and Berger had planned to close March 26, but the coronavirus pandemic hastened their plans.

Her plans in retirement are to “just live,” she said. Eckroth enjoys decorating and flower gardening. Berger plans to visit family and also do some gardening.

Berger said she and Eckroth are different in a lot of ways, but they share the same work ethic and enjoy each other’s company. Eckroth said they have always gotten along well.

“We’ve always been friends,” Berger said. “Everyone says we spend more time together than we ever did with our husbands, so we probably know each other a lot better, and spending every day together, I’m sure we’re going to miss each other. But I always said we’re only a phone call away.”

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