MOSES LAKE — Four dollars and twenty-five cents. That’s how much a haircut cost 40 years ago when the Char-Glo School of Beauty first opened its doors in Moses Lake, and in celebration of four decades of service, it’s the cost of a haircut at their shop through the end of the year.
“We feel very gratified that we can service this community, help the kids get the education for what they want to do and see their success as they grow,” said Charles Determan, co-owner of the school.
The road here has been winding. Charles Determan got out of the service in 1967 after six and a half years with the Navy, which included time in Vietnam. He returned home to Belle Fourche, South Dakota, a ranching town near the geographic center of the United States, where he met Gloria, the woman that he would soon marry.
Gloria Determan had almost joined the service herself before being talked out of signing up for the Air Force, finally deciding to become a beautician. She was two years into her first job with Pat’s Beauty Shop when she met Charles.
The two got married in short order, enjoying their first few years together in Belle Fourche. Charles, who had worked for the Utah-Idaho Sugar Company while in high school and returned to their employ after concluding his military service, was transferred to Moses Lake in 1967. At the time, he worked as an assistant master mechanic.
With different certification processes from state to state, Gloria had to earn a new license, setting off to complete the last 300 hours of work required to be able to operate in Washington. She didn’t go right back into work, deciding instead to maintain her license.
“(Charles) asked me, when I was done, what I wanted to do,” Gloria said with a smile. “I said, ‘oh, nothing!’”
After a brief hiatus, however, Charles made her an offer: he could build her a salon of her own, or he could build her a school. Gloria chose a school.
Construction didn’t begin immediately, but Charles never forgot his wife’s wish. In 1977, when the Determans learned that U&I would soon be closing its local sugar beet plant, they prepared for their next steps.
Two years later, in 1979, that school opened its doors, with Charles in charge of office work and Gloria as head instructor and on Dec. 9, 1980, the first student graduated from Char-Glo. That first school was located in the mall where Safeway operates, out of the storefront where H&R Block is currently.
In addition to their full-time students, Charles worked with Moses Lake High School to start their high school program in 1981, opening a direct avenue for students to begin training for a career. Though Gloria’s two fellow instructors at the time weren’t particularly keen to work with high schoolers, Gloria jumped at the chance.
That program was dropped at one juncture by the high school, but was reintroduced in 1997 and still operates today. After 30 years of doing the work herself, Gloria has handed over the job of teaching the younger students to other instructors, she said.
From its humble beginnings, Char-Glo has since graduated hundreds of students from across the Columbia Basin, many of whom have gone on to open their own shops or instruct their own students.
Whether it’s Mike’s Barber Shop, Northwest Finest Barbershop or Capelli’s Gentlemen’s Barbershop, there are few places where a person can get their haircut in Moses Lake that hasn’t been graced by one of Char-Glo’s graduates.
Though most have formed their roots locally, some are even working as platform artists, jet-setting across the world for various projects. Gloria believes she can tell right away when a student is passionate about the work, and she takes great pride in seeing those students succeed.
“It felt good watching as they succeeded, but they were very ambitious girls, so they were going to do something big like that,” Gloria said.
Today, the school has 16 full-time students and 15 high school students from CB Tech. There are a variety of different paths they have chosen, all of which require a considerable time investment.
Different licenses require a different amount of hours: becoming a cosmetologist takes 1,640 hours, becoming a barber takes 1,000, while becoming an aesthetician or nail technician requires 750 and 500 hours, respectively. As much as a quarter of that time is spent practicing on mannequins, made with real human hair, before ever working on a live customer.
Though some of the work may seem simple to the average customer, a lot of fine tuning goes into perfecting that work.
Beauticians need to be able to understand chemistry, biology and the potential for contamination and handle those factors to ensure they safely and effectively service their customers, said instructor Nic Harle. Harle, grandson of the Determans, is also a vocational teacher at the school.
Though customers are serviced by students still learning their craft, those services are also far more affordable than the average salon’s. A woman’s haircut costs around $12, a man’s costs $10 and manicures cost $8.
That isn’t to say that customers aren’t happy with the end result, Charles is quick to point out, or else they wouldn’t have many customers left.
“If you do good work, people come back,” Charles said. “The students do a fantastic job.”
In addition to teaching high school students job skills as beauticians, special needs students with the high school often come to the school to learn other job skills while helping to clean the facility.
Though their prices have always been relatively affordable, the Determans wanted to take the opportunity to celebrate their 40th anniversary in business and thank the community for their decades of patronage.
“I thought we would celebrate our 40 years of being in business, because we don’t know how long we can keep going,” Charles said. “We wanted to figure out how we can give back to the community.”
“I thank God for keeping me healthy so I can keep running my school, because I love it,” Gloria added. “That’s why I’ve been in it for so long, because I love this profession.”
Emry Dinman can be reached via email at [email protected]
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