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Hair salon, barbershop owners shut down as stay-at-home order commences

  • Brett Stauffeneker cuts his younger brother Adam's hair at the Fade Away barber shop in New Ipswich recently. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 3/26/2020 3:39:04 PM

After struggling to get customers in the door as people maintained social distancing advice, local haircutters have joined the many small retailers to temporarily shutter as non-essential businesses close down to continue to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Neighboring Vermont and Massachusetts had already ordered their states’ hairstylists to shut down temporarily, and were joined by New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu on Friday, when hair salons were not listed among those businesses listed as essential to continue operating. Prior to Friday, Sununu had left the decision to stay open or to close up to the individual businesses.

Local hairdressers and barbers felt the hit of people staying home even before the announcement that all “non-essential” businesses were to close as of Friday, March 27. There’s no way to get a haircut virtually, or from six feet away.

Before its full closure, Kate’s Cuts in Peterborough announced Wednesday it was reducing its hours – again – due to lack of customers coming through the door and appointment cancellations.

“We have nothing on the books for next week,” Kate’s Cuts owner Kate Williams said. “So many people are calling and canceling.”

The business usually employs five stylists, but only two were working last week, with the others electing to stay home Williams said. It wasn’t not a strain on demand, Williams said, because she was seeing very few customers walk in the door – when walk-ins are usually almost 90 percent of her business.

Williams said she understands the situation. She herself has lung issues and has had pneumonia in the past year.

“If you’re going by that six-foot standard, we’re not doing it, so I get it,” Williams said.

Brett Stauffeneker, owner of Fade Away Barbershop in New Ipswich, said he’d seen such a reduction in business before the shutdown he had moved to an appointment-only model.

“I tried to be open last week, and business has definitely slowed down,” Stauffeneker said. “Lately, I’ve been doing around 75 haircuts a week, and last week, it was half that.”

Both owners said that when they were open, they were doing what they could to protect themselves and their customers. Williams said they are disinfecting counters, chairs, and their tools after each customer. But people just aren’t coming through the door.

Added Touch Salon in Rindge had already made the decision to close its doors completely prior to Friday’s order, though owner Deborah Farley originally said she hoped to be able to re-open on April 7, in time for the Easter season, which traditionally is a very busy time for the salon. Farley said she made the decision because both her staff and customers were nervous about coming in.

“People were scared,” Farley said.

Farley said of the eight stylists she employs, several asked to not come in, and there had been a huge reduction of customers.

“It’s a bad situation, but I think it was wise,” she said of her decision to close. “When you’re shampooing someone, you’re right there. When you’re doing someone’s nails, you’re right in their face, you’re right with them. I want to protect our staff and our clients. It’s a struggle. The bills keep coming in. But we’ll make it.”

“I don’t believe that we’re going to lose any of our following, as long as the fear goes away,” Farley said.

 

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.


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