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Only a week ago, all of the chairs at Sandhills Shave Shop on Franklin Street were full of customers and the couches against the wall for people waiting were full, barbers recalled.
But this Saturday morning, following a week when the coronavirus threat ramped up, three of the barbers were waiting for customers, and nobody was waiting for a cut.
“Usually on Saturdays by this time we’re all cutting,” said barber Mike Primo late Saturday morning. “I’ve had one customer.”
Barbers said the scare has definitely slowed down business — and in a hurry. Many reservations in the last couple of days have been canceled.
But they also said they are glad just to have jobs right now as some places, like the state of New York, have closed down personal services businesses like barber shops, tattoo parlors, nail salons and piercing shops.
Gov. Roy Cooper hasn’t taken that measure here yet, but barbers at Sandhills Shave said they are concerned that may be coming as the number of cases increase.
Primo said he’s trying to save as much as he can in anticipation of Cooper making a closure announcement. “It’s just a matter of time,” he said. “As a barber you always have to save money just in case of an emergency.”
In these types of businesses, in order to provide the service, it is impossible for people waiting on customers to practice the social distancing recommendations health officials say can reduce the risk of contracting the virus, namely staying 6 feet apart from others.
Primo said he’s not too concerned about his safety on the job — yet. “I don’t think we are impacted as other big cities (are), but I think it’s coming and we need to take precautions,” he said.
He said he continues to wear gloves when he cuts hair, and he has been doing extra sanitizing at his work station, wiping down chairs.
He said he’s also taking the capes that customers wear while getting cuts home every night to be washed.
Sandhills Shave Shop barber James O’Neal said he’s been spraying sanitizers more frequently on scissors and other products used to cut hair.
O’Neal said some people are delaying haircuts as the virus scare grows, but he said one advantage of that shop is it serves a lot of military personnel, who are required to keep their hair short.
“We’re just trying to hang in there right now,” he said. “We don’t plan on completely shutting down until they force us.”
Allandra Gantt, a stylist at Natural Genius Hair Salon on Hay Street that offers braiding and hair-coloring services, said she is concerned about the coronavirus risk, but she has to work to make an income for her family, which includes several children.
“We’re in close proximity to people, especially with the fact that some people don’t have symptoms,” she said. “But at the same time, you’ve got to work.”
She, too, is concerned that Cooper will order salons shut down like New York, so she is working extra hours to save up money for her family.
“We didn’t see this coming,” she said. “I plan on working tomorrow when I was supposed to be off.”
Darren Generette, a barber at Gillespie Street Barber Shop, said he’s also seen a slowdown in business. As he gave a customer a razor shave, all of the seats in the shop were empty.
“If it’s for public safety, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do,” he said. “But I would need some kind of stimulus (funds).”
Claudia Teague, the owner of Claudia’s Nails and Spa on Bragg Boulevard, said her business has slowed since the virus scare.
She said they keep a very clean business and adhere to strict sanitary standards, including putting on new gloves for each customer.
“We keep distance the most we can (from customers). We keep the place clean. The things I use the most are disposable,” she said.
As the mother of two children, closing down would cause financial hardship, Teague said. She said she was assured a couple of days ago that she can continue to do business, but that could always change.
“I live off of my business,” she said. “I have a family, I have things to pay. If we have to close, it is going to be a really huge problem.”
Nate Paul, one of the owners of Anvil Ink and Art, a tattoo shop on Bragg Boulevard, has also seen his business slow since the scare started.
Paul said business there is now only being done by appointment, so it is losing its many walk-in customers in the high-profile building that used to be an IHOP restaurant.
“Obviously, we want to have minimal people here,” he said. “We don’t want to contribute to it spreading. There is no amount of money that is worth getting somebody sick.”
“We have our clients wear masks. We wear masks. We have arm sleeves and stuff we wear (to protect from the virus),” he said.
Post time: Apr-23-2020