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Iowa School of Beauty to close Marshalltown location

T-R PHOTO BY SARA JORDAN HEINTZ - The Iowa School of Beauty's Marshalltown campus will close in February.

The Iowa School of Beauty’s Marshalltown campus will be closing its doors by the end of February.

“For about five years, and this isn’t just Iowa School of Beauty — it’s cosmetology schools in Iowa — enrollments have been declining substantially. Ultimately, the financial situation is such that we can’t continue operations in a community that size to survive,” School President Andrew Oswald said in an interview with the T-R.

The ISB, founded in 1923, has taught generations of students here and at its other locales: Des Moines, Sioux City and Ottumwa. Marshalltown’s campus, 112 Nicholas Drive, is the only one slated for closure.

Programs offered include cosmetology, esthetics, nail technology and massage therapy. The general public reaps the benefits by receiving these services at discounted rates as students gain job experience in the salons.

Readers weighed in on the loss to the community.

“My daughter had considered going there after she graduated. Now of course that won’t be an option,” Jeanne Reben Vellinga said. “I’ve been going there off and on for five years, since we’ve moved back. I’ve taken my girls there too. It really makes me sad they’re closing.”

For Jason Kane, formerly of Marshalltown, he said he received haircuts there as a kid in the 1980s.

“It gave a lot of people a career path different from college or trades — something to start out with or change over to later in life. A lot of people got their foundation there and moved on to different jobs but were better for it. That is the saddest part about its closing to me,” Kane said.

Marciana Roth said she is concerned about those in the community interested in this line of work.

“I think it will affect many women and men in the area,” she said. “Where will people in the community go for school? That single mother who wants to do hair now has to travel to Ames for the closest beauty school.”

Oswald said students currently enrolled will be able to complete their programs of study. Students must complete 2,100 hours of study to graduate.

“It’s tough. Our team members, our community — we care about everyone there and it’s definitely not an easy decision to make,” Oswald said. “We would still absolutely love to serve the needs of (Marshalltown) at our Des Moines branch.”

Oswald said the Marshalltown location had been underperforming compared to the other campuses.

“Our peak enrollment was in 2009 and 2010, and even at that time Marshalltown struggled with enrollment,” he said. “There’s a high demand for cosmetologists right now, with salons in desparate need for new hires, but there aren’t the students graduating to actually fulfill the labor demands.”

Shelly Armstrong Deal said her mother has enjoyed visiting Marshalltown’s ISB for the past 25 years.

“Her philosophy is ‘I pay a lot less for a great outcome. It may take longer than if I went to an already established salon or stylist, but I am helping a student learn so my extra time spent there is valuable to help educate.'”