Many local businesses are struggling to make a decision on reopening their business. None are finding this more difficult than barbers and stylists. Governor Kemp shocked the nation and President Trump with his decision to begin reopening businesses starting on Friday. What was more shocking was moving some of the highest risk businesses to phase one. These include barbers, stylists, nail salons, massage parlors and tattoo artists.
Then Kemp released 28 safety guidelines for these businesses to implement. The guidelines are sensible, but left local business owners scrambling to buy supplies like masks, gloves and sterilization products that are in tremendously short supply.
In addition to President Trump, there have been experts across the country questioning the timing of this decision and feel that it is too soon to begin opening businesses. This confusion has put local shop owners in a difficult place. On one hand, they have now been closed for four weeks. Because most of them are independent contractors, few of them have received unemployment or financial assistance. They really need to go back to work, but now they have to implement all of these changes and purchase equipment and supplies when they are already cash strapped. In addition, they are concerned about their safety and the safety of their customers.
No segment of our community has felt this crushing economic blow more than minority owned barbers and stylists. They also understand how dangerous this is and that minorities have a greater risk of dying from COVID-19.
I caught up with local Barber, Larry Scarboro, who is the owner of The Big Head Barber Salon on West Main Street in downtown Statesboro. Big Heads is unique in that it is a multicultural barber shop. Larry is also a barber instructor. He brings a unique perspective to the challenges these business owners face. Larry has met in person or by phone with many of the local minority barbers to see what they were thinking and to get a plan in place to reopen. The consensus of the group is that it is too early and they are not willing to take the risk involved with reopening. They are also concerned by the fact they will have to raise the price of haircuts to help offset the increased cost of doing business in following these guidelines.
“This is a challenging place to be. We all watch the news and are more confused about this than before we turned on the TV. The bottom line is safety”, said Larry Scarboro. “We can’t buy the supplies locally. When we find them online, most are on back order. We need to focus on getting supplies in, creating new procedures to follow the new guidelines and then train our staff. I am not sure how anyone does all that by tomorrow. I think May 1st is a realistic date many of us are shooting for.”
Barbers and Stylists Call for help from the Community
Mayor Pro Tem and District Two Council Member, Paulette Chavers represents many of the minority barbers and stylists in the city. She has began an effort to help get citizens to help these small business owners by donating materials and supplies they need or help provide some financial assistance.
The list includes:
“I shared this need on social media and I have had several people reach out to help. Anything citizens of Statesboro could do to help these small businesses, they would greatly appreciate. I also want to commend each of these small business owners and entrepreneurs for standing strong and making our communities health and safety a top priority”, said Paulette Chavers.
If you would like to donate or help Ms. Chavers in any way with this effort please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Many businesses struggling with decision to reopen
It is not just barbers and stylists that are having difficulty with decisions to reopen, but gyms and restaurants are also. Many local restaurants have decided not to open their dining room and the YMCA has elected to remain closed. Based on a social media post, they are making this decision in order to make sure they are ready to meet the new guidelines and to ensure the highest safety of their employees and customers.
As a small business owner I am as anxious to get back to life as normal as possible. There are many opinions on social media. One of the greatest concerns and challenges is the unknown. Each citizen and business owner in our community is evaluating this decision based on what is best for them personally. Hopefully, we all make the best decisions collectively that will get us through this with the best outcome health wise.
I have spoken to many businesses who are planing on reopening. I have discussed what changes they will be making and the steps they are taking to keep their employees and customers safe. I feel good based on these conversations that most businesses will work hard to ensure everyone is as safe as possible.
Please remember that these business owners that are reopening will be doing this to serve you and to get their employees back to work. Doing business with them will be very different for the next few months. Please be patient with them and these new procedures. Keep in mind online and curbside options. OnandOpen.com is a great way to help local businesses without leaving your home.