Mark Kase, who opened a Fantastic Sams hair salon in Princeton Jan. 2, said his attention was first drawn to the city of
Princeton when he heard some data about Sherburne County, which contains part of the city.
The data said Sherburne is one of the fastest growing counties in the state. In fact, it was the fastest growing Minnesota
county in years 1994-99 and in 2002, according to records that the Sherburne County auditor’s office has gathered. Urban sprawl was happening in the late 1990s into the early 2000s, and many open fields and wooded parcels were becoming filled with new homes occupied by former metro residents.
Kase looked into acquiring franchises and focused on Fantastic Sams salons. He has operated a salon in Zimmerman for about 10 years, a salon in Cambridge for about five years, and now his newly opened Princeton salon.
Kase, 51, a native of Buffalo, N.Y., who now lives in Fridley, said he looked into owning a franchise after having had enough of the corporate world.
His career began with management at a bank for two to three years. Next he worked a stint as a commercial loan officer with the Small Business Administration. He then spent nine years as a business analyst with Carlson Companies in Plymouth and finally worked for a time in finance at Xcel Energy.
Explaining more about going for franchises, he said: “I wanted to find something that fit with family life. I had given the corporate route a try.”
Kase, who doesn’t cut hair, said he was more involved in the daily operations of his Fantastic Sams businesses in the beginning, even sweeping hair off the floors. The involvement “fluctuated over time based on need and what was going on with my family life,” he explained.
He said he has great staff members at his three Fantastic Sams locations, with a manager at each so he can rely on them to carry on without much of his involvement.
Kase said he first tried to open a Fantastic Sams in Princeton about five years ago when the Dollar Bell store opened in the southwest quadrant of the interchange of Highways 95 and 169. Kevin Bell, who was the owner of the Dollar Bell business, had relocated the business from downtown Princeton to the new building. Bell had hoped that a big box store would open near his new store soon.
But the big box that finally came in, Walmart, did not open until February 2013 in the quadrant. By then the Dollar Bell business there had closed and Sherburne State Bank ended up owning the Dollar Bell building.
Kase said he had unsuccessfully tried to work out a deal to be in the Dollar Bell building when the Dollar Bell business was operating. Now, with the bank owning the empty building, he was able to lease space in the building.
Kase said the Walmart opening prompted him to look again at the Princeton area to open a Fantastic Sams franchise and “solidify the corner” of his string of franchises. What Fantastic Sams is noted for is being a full-service, value-priced hair salon with no appointments, Kase added.
“My hope is that more people will find they can do their shopping and services like hair locally instead of driving someplace else,” he said. “I hope to add to the local convenience.”
The Kase’s side interests include soccer. He coaches his kids in soccer and referees league and high school soccer games.