For many local African-American barbers and hairstylists, the announcement on Monday that Phase One of the governor’s re-opening plan for New York State included Western New York, was good news.
If all goes well, Phase Two ,which includes the opening of barber shops and beauty salons, is projected to kick off around June 1.
-Hair to Go-
Meanwhile entrepreneurs are busy preparing to put plans in place to protect themselves and their customers with the proper sanitary measures.
Althea Little, owner of Hair to Go Natural, located at 727 Main Street, says that she, like other area stylists, are looking forward to being able to service her customers again.
The savvy entrepreneur, who has been in business for almost 25 years, said her safety plan includes (but is not limited to) taking everyone’s temperature – workers and customers – daily; making sure everyone washes their hands regularly; mandating that everyone – clients as well as stylists – wears a mask; practicing social distancing; and having customers sign in.
“Customers will have to sign in for tracking purposes in case someone get sick,” she explained.
In addition to spacing and partitioning work stations, “customers may pretty much have to wait in their cars,” between appointments she said. Hosting a salon full of people will no longer be allowed, she continued. “ We can no longer afford to have children and extra people waiting inside while others are being serviced.”
Staggering appointments she added, will hopefully eliminate or drastically reduce wait times. It also means that customers will have to be on time and clear about what they want done so that stylists and braiders can work quickly and efficiently.
“Hopefully people will be able to accept the ‘new normal’ she said. “It’s all about safety first – both for the stylists and customers.”
-House of Masters-
Sean Thompson is at the top of his game. In addition to being a Supervisor for Procuring Barber exams for the State as well as a NYS instructor, he’s been in business for 21 years. He’s the owner of Sean’s House of Masters on E. Delavan and The Grooming Lounge on Main Street, which he opened less than a year ago.
Sean has his safety plan together and he’s looking forward to opening back up.
“Each and every day I want us all to be safe,” he said. “I’m completely aware of the CDC Laws to protect myself and my clients. I’m not trying to kill myself and I have to make sure my clients know I’m taking every measure to protect them and provide a safe environment.”
His safety plan inludes: Putting barriers between barber chairs if he is unabe to seperate them by 6 feet; removing the waiting area; accepting appointments only; no walk-ins; and taking the temperatures of everyone who comes in – barbers and customers alike. Also, before servicing each customer the barber has to sanitize his station, chair and hands and remove any hair off the floor.
“We will take each clients name for tracking purposes if it becomes necessary; Barbers have to have hand sanitizer at each station and peform services with new gloves for each client. All clients and barbers must wear facial masks during services; and there will be no eating or drinking.
Sean said his barbers have been updated on their COVID19 Certificates and current NYS inspection control procedures (on line courses).
“You’ve got to have a plan and it’s got to be posted,” he continued.
Sean prides himself in being a businessman, but says he’s still concerned about his community and whether or not some barbers will be able to stay consistent with the rules for public safety.
“I know the industry but I also know… the culture,” he said. “At the end of the day I just want us all to be safe! “
Ed Note: Every business in Western New York that is looking to reopen must have a plan, County Executive Poloncarz has said. The state issued a template that businesses can use, available in fillable PDF format: https://bit.ly/3bHoAi3