Busy first week for reopening businesses
Tri-Town residents can now ride a horse, fix a clock, get a haircut, or get their dog a trim, all things they couldn’t do just a few weeks ago under coronavirus restrictions. And while reopening hasn’t been easy for all small business owners, it has been a relief.
When Governor Baker announced barber shops could open on May 18, Tri-Town Barbershop owner Shawn Lynch’s head shot up to his TV screen at home and let out a “what?!”
He was mostly surprised that the governor gave barber shops only a week to prepare for opening.
People were so eager to book an appointment that “I turned my phone off because it was going to melt,” Lynch said.
Usually a walk-in only shop, he is now taking appointments on Facebook, and is currently booked a week out. He said that he has been working from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. almost every day of the week since opening.
His customers, many who are regulars, are “happy to see me back,” Lynch said.
He was out of work for nine weeks, and his other barber will have been out for 11 after he returns next week. The Marion Board of Health closed the shop a week before the state closed all hair salons.
In opening, the board has also been helpful. Dave Flaherty, Marion’s new health agent, spoke with Lynch at his shop last week and said that he was doing everything right, which was a relief for the owner.
Despite long days and huge demand, Kristen Felton of Blue Salon has felt hugely supported by her clients.
The eight stylists at the salon have all agreed to work a half schedule, with 8 to 12 hours days, because “chairs aren’t quite 6 feet apart,” and it is the easiest way to social distance rather than installing and cleaning partitions, Felton said.
She disinfects the sink each time she uses it, and has added 15 minutes to appointments to wipe hair off stations, chairs and carts. Stylists also have new capes, aprons and gloves for each customer.
“If I were the reason someone got sick, I would be horrified,” the stylist of 18 years said.
Throughout the whole process, Felton said “all of my clientele have been gracious and kind. I love them to pieces, and I am so sad I can’t hug them.”
Although salons might not be classified as essential businesses by the state, Felton thinks she is still able to do a lot of good.
“What a fresh haircut and color does for you mentally is so important. I don’t think people realize,” she said.
Dog owners are just as eager to have their pets spruced up.
Emma Marie’s Grooming and Daycare shut down on March 23, even though it could have stayed open. Owner Johnelle Ciano reopened the day care on May 4, and opened grooming May 23, when she felt safer.
Her business saw 335 dogs in week one of grooming, and has a 700 dog waitlist. For now, she is focusing on old clients and dogs that need grooming because they got cut by owners, or are uncomfortable because of mats or overly long nails.
Though she has taken extensive steps to keep employees safe, she doesn’t fully agree with all state policies.
“I don’t think it’s fair that you can get a haircut but can’t drop off the dog inside,” Ciano said.
But, to comply with state rules, she has owners bring their own leash and has set up a three step system to collect dogs. Her employees are also separated into three teams that don’t interact in case one team has to isolate.
During the shutdown, the volume of calls was a bit overwhelming to the point where Ciano had to eventually say “don’t leave voicemails, just email” because she would get 60 to 70 voicemails and have new calls come in while checking voicemail.
However, she also said her clients were amazing and very loyal. She had clients who bought 10-day passes for daycare even when they will be working from home indefinitely just to support her.
Although Ciano still offers goods from her store, she said it is harder for owners to buy some products like leashes because they really have to be tried on. Still, she prides herself on her store and doesn’t want to go all digital.
Laurie Buler, owner and trainer at Harmony Farm, said she that her regular horse riders “are definitely looking forward to riding again.”
The farm is scheduling more intermediate riders at first because they can handle setup and riding on their own rather than needing her help.
While Buler is excited to have students in a fun learning environment once again, she is also relieved because “I really depend on the income from lessons.”
During lessons, it will be easy to social distance as riders usually need to stay at least six feet apart. After lessons, all the equipment will be sanitized.
With many stuck at home all day, the demand for household good repairs shot up, and has been high at Pen and Pendulum since it reopened for clock repairs only on May 26.
Customers must call ahead to alert the shop that they are coming, as the owners have implemented curbside drop off and pickup.
Warren Hovasse, clock repair manager at the shop, said people were “clamoring on the phone” to get their clocks in the shop, and he received three clocks on the day it reopened.
In the time off, he said the shop received 35 messages about repairs.
While this may not seem like a lot, repairs take anywhere from two weeks to over six months.
All workers are wearing gloves and masks inside, and the shop is preparing for when its retail side can open in phase two by putting up plexiglass partitions at its checkout.