Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.
For weeks, the owners of local salons, spas, gyms and tattoo shops have upped their sanitation practices to fight the spread of COVID-19. Gov. Roy Cooper decided the effort wasn’t enough, and as of 5 p.m. Wednesday, these businesses across the state will be closed for a minimum of 30 days.
“We’re trying to see as many clients as we can until 5 o’clock,” said Fringe Salon owner David Bray. “I’m worried about our whole team because we’re all independent contractors. I’m worried about them and the business itself.
“I’m not scared of the virus, but the effect on small businesses.”
Many hairstylists, barbers, tattoo artists and massage therapists are independent contractors or self-employed, so they’re not eligible for state unemployment benefits. Officials said they might be covered by federal disaster unemployment assistance if it’s approved.
The nearly nine months pregnant owner of Deep Roots Salon, Atlanta Wills Skinner, said she’s worried about how her employees will support their families during this mandatory closure.
“This is our income and how we feed our families, so how will being closed for at least 30 days affect them?” she said. “I do feel if we can shut everything down for a while, it will go away, so I guess this is the way it is supposed to be.”
With friends owning salons in other states that also have implemented closures, Bray said he saw the order coming but didn’t know when it would happen or how long it would be in effect.
“I pray for everybody through this. If we turn this over to the Lord, we’ll get through this and come back stronger,” he said. “When things get back to the new normal, I know I’m really going to focus more on supporting other small, locally owned businesses.”
Everlasting Impressions Tattoo & Body Piercings owner Adam Kitchen said only 48 hours notice has forced him to cancel weeks’ worth of appointments and return deposits to customers. He added the timing was particularly bad given the surge in business he normally sees when Wilsonians receive tax refunds.
“It usually hits right now, but everyone is holding on to their refunds because they are scared of what will happen and whether they will be laid off, so no one is spending money like they usually do,” Kitchen said. “I understand shutting down, but it is falling at the wrong time of year for us.”
Kitchen said he’s worried about paying personal and professional bills without any income for at least a month.
“I never would have thought about this in 1,000 years. We have been through the flu season every year but never anything this serious,” he said. “It is mind-boggling to me, but hopefully the community will stick together and when everything reopens, people will spend money with local businesses to help us get back on our feet.”
Sheetz has made some changes to business in response to the spread of coronavirus. The chain of gas stations has discontinued self-serve coffee by urging customers to order at electronic terminals or ask an employee for assistance. Sheetz also has discontinued self-service beverages and self-serve bakery items.
“Sheetz is doing everything we can to prioritize the health and well-being of our team members, customers to evolve,” Sheetz President and COO Travis Sheetz said in a release. “These changes are in the best interest of our customers and employees as we remain a vital resource for our communities.”
Got an idea for news to include in next week’s Main Street Minute? Don’t hesitate to reach out to me at 252-265-7821 or firstname.lastname@example.org.