While the closure of businesses shook the economy, one service put on hold that is being felt by everyone on a personal level is hair service, such as barbershops and salons. And for the stylists and shop owners themselves, their livelihood was cut short when the pandemic hit the streets.
Last week, about 17 hairstylists and shop owners gathered at Hair Designs & Tanning on Lake Street in Owego to unite in their efforts to reopen, and to discuss any protocols that may need to be put in place.
According to the shop owners and stylists at the meeting, they are ready.
Attending the meeting were stylists from The Styling Corner, Hair Designs & Tanning, Andy & Son Barbershop, The Cutting Edge, Ahwaga Barber Shop, Shear Paradise, New Beginning’s, and a stylist from Friends and Family Salon. Their biggest question, “When can we open?”
“When I went by Walmart and Wegmans and saw they were packed, I thought why can’t we open,” said Linda Laba, owner of Hair Designs and Tanning, adding, “After all, who doesn’t need a haircut.”
“If we can get a head’s up on this, it would be good,” added Laba, who is frustrated, like other salon owners and stylists, that she can’t get answers on when she can reopen.
According to the NY Forward Plan built by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office, the Southern Tier Region, which includes Tioga County, N.Y., can begin to reopen businesses highlighted under Phase 1, which began Friday. A complete breakdown of business types under Phase I can be found at https://forward.ny.gov. The state is then requiring at least two weeks between each Phase. More information can also be found at www.tiogacountyny.com/programs-agencies/covid19/.
As of this reporting, New York has yet to clearly define where barbershops and hair and nail salons fall into the four reopening phases, but the stylists that gathered last week wanted to be sure they are ready.
At Laba’s own shop, her chairs are already six-feet apart, and the work area is well sanitized.
“We have to sanitize after each client, and have to wear a different cape for each customer,” Laba added.
Getting the capes, however, is something the stylists might have a hard time with; so getting a jump on things, they all agreed, was the best thing to do.
Lori Jackson, owner of The Styling Corner in Owego, has enough sanitizer going into things, and is preparing for her Spencer Avenue shop’s eventual reopening. She does have concern that the supplies will be hard to get if the demand goes up when the shops open.
Jackson is hoping to install touch-less hand sanitizers and stated, “We’ll be ready.”
Matt Romano, of Andy & Son Barbershop in Owego, echoed their preparedness, stating, “The lights will be on.”
Andy, also from Andy & Son Barbershop, stated that his longtime customers would be the first to get a cut.
All shop owners have been affected economically during the pandemic, but in their profession, having business when they reopen is not going to be a problem, as most residents have gone nine weeks or even longer without a cut, color, shave, or curl.
“We can all feel blessed,” Laba stated to the circle of salon owners and stylists last week, “we’re going to be packed.”
(Note from the Editor: After we went to print with this story, New York State placed the hair salons in Phase 2, which begins on May 29.)