Area salons and barbershops reopen to a ‘new normal’
By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw
Chester County, your three-month nightmare of self-inflicted haircuts performed over your kitchen sink is now over.
As part of the recent announcement by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf that moved the county to the green phase of reopening from the COVID-19 pandemic on June 26, salons and barbershops across the county reopened last Friday, under guidelines that restrict businesses to 50 percent capacity and institute a “by appointment only” system.
While the local hair styling industry has been given the opportunity to conduct business again, the license to do so has come with a commitment by salons to ensure that clients and stylists will remain as safe as possible from the effects of the coronavirus.
At all four Currie Hair, Skin, Nails locations – including the salon on State Street in Kennett Square – owner Randy Currie and his team have hired Oasis Clean to conduct a top-to-bottom scrub down of all waiting areas, reception desks and service stations. Using the PermaState System, Oasis has applied a disinfection and long-term antimicrobial protection at all locations, that eliminates 99.999 percent of all bacteria on treated surfaces. The system meets the criteria for protection against SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVD-19.
During the shutdown, Currie also installed plexiglass screens at all shampoo bowls, front desks and manicure and pedicure stations. In addition, all Currie team members received training and proper sanitation and disinfection procedures that meet the highest standards of the salon industry.
Currie said that several aspects of the project came from seeing what other industry leaders were doing as they reopened.
“We were taking what they did and adding what someone else did,” he said. “I wanted to send a message to the team and our customers that we were serious about safety, and that they are our number one priority.
“I was really careful to do everything we could to make them feel that we truly care about them. I think everyone felt that I was going above and beyond, and we’ve had tremendous support from our staff.”
Other area salon centers are following the same protocol. At Salon Secrets in Kennett Square, its website is filled with the new guidelines of conducting business during the pandemic. A team member will greet clients at the door and taking their temperatures; anyone with a temperature of 100 degrees or more will be required to reschedule the appointment.
“We will be following all state mandated guidelines and then some,” a statement reads on its website. “All team members have been COVID-19 Barbicide-certified in disinfecting practices on top of their state license that requires safe sanitation practices. All team members will be required to complete a temperature check when arriving at the salon, following the same protocols as guests upon arrival.
“We are implementing personal protection protocols including masks and fresh laundered capes (as always)! We will provide masks for color services so that your own is not damaged or stained. All tools, stations, chairs, seating areas and doors will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected each day and between guests. Dividers and plexiglass shields have been installed throughout the salon. Team members will wear face guards during shampoo services.”
Salon Secrets clients waiting for service will be spaced apart or given the choice of waiting in their car, and masks are required for the entire duration of a client’s visit, and once inside the salon area, clients will be directed to a sanitation station.
In order to prevent the possible spread of germs, the salon has also eliminated beverage services and changing rooms as well as magazines, and is using a cashless check-out system.
Even the normally close-knit camaraderie between owner Bob Burton and his regular customers at Burton’s Barber Shop in Kennett Square seemed to absorb the effects of the coronavirus, as it reopened on June 26. Its waiting line row – for years a gabfest of sports and other topics – was nearly silent, as customers cloaked in face masks waited a socially distant six feet apart.
Over the course of the three-month shutdown, Currie said that while the business absorbed a significant financial blow, he and the company’s 180 employees continued to maintain contact and share information through the use of several Zoom meetings. Connecting – if only through online resources – kept company morale strong, he said.
“People who work in this industry, serve,” he said. “They have the mentality of helping other people, and that has been the biggest component of keeping everyone together during this difficult period. It created a bonding effect between everyone at Currie.”
On June 25, as she and her staff prepared for their reopening the next day, Kelsey Basilio, the owner of Shear Satisfaction in Toughkenamon, said that she and her staff are adapting to new protocols both in safety and in procedure. For instance, because the salon does not have a separate waiting area, clients will be asked to phone the salon when they arrive in the nearby parking lot.
“It was both challenging for and discouraging not knowing [about when we could reopen], while at the same time seeing all of these other businesses open back up,” she said.”
Basilio said that during the shutdown, she heard from several of Shear Satisfaction’s regular clientele, who shared their respective horror stories, a few of which forced them to take matters – as well as scissors – into their own hands or those of their husbands and children. She said that while she took solace in her staff receiving unemployment compensation over the last three months, she saw another glimmer of hope, in the form of regular customers purchasing gift certificates for later use.
“It was wonderful for so many of our clients to show their support by choosing not to cross state lines and instead, wait for us to reopen,” she said. “As we all get through this first day, and figuring out how to get through the ‘new normal’ at Shear Satisfaction, it will be about how we all exercise our patience.
“I am hoping that we will all work as one – stylists and clients -- and that we will all remain calm and get through it, together.”
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email firstname.lastname@example.org.