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‘Everything from cuts to curls’: Beauty shops, barbers reopen

Business was brisk at the local hair salons and barber shops on Tuesday, following, Gov. Kay Ivey’s green light to re-open on Monday.

“Customers are coming in like bunches of bananas,” said Betty Dunn, owner of Hair Cutters in Troy. “But, that’s understandable. We’ve been closed way to long and having your hair done is a necessity. People want to look good and feel good. Nobody wants to look ugly. And, if your hair is a mess you can’t look all that good.

“Look at the commentators on TV. You think they haven’t had their hair done? Well, our customers wanted to have that same opportunity.”

Dunn said she is happy to be back at work and her customers, men and women, are anxious to be back in the chair.

“They’re coming in for everything from cuts to curls to color to high-lights and waxing, so, the whole ball of wax you might say,” Dunn said. “And, we are taking every precaution to keep our customers and us safe. Every precaution, including the number of people in the shop at one time.

Dunn said there are hand sanitizers at every station and masks of all kinds – store-bought and handmade — are available.

“We even have a Clorox spray so we can spray our customers down and it won’t bleach their clothes,” she said. “We have hand wipes when they come in and when they go out the door. We practice social distancing as much as we can but we are doing hair. But have you been in these big box stores?  People are all over each other. We are doing everything that is being asked of us and more.”

Dunn said, in the response to COVID-19, small business owners have not been treated fairly and it will be difficult to recover.

“We had to make house calls just to try to pay the bills,” she said. “We were turned down by the state for unemployment and it was six weeks before we got a stimulus check. But, the electric company didn’t call and say, ‘Betty, you just pay when you can.’ So, yes, I am thankful that we can be open and we appreciate our customers’ support more than they know.  And, if they are nervous or concerned about coming back, they sure don’t act like it.”

Phillip and Lisa Addison from north Pike County were eager to get an appointment. Like many folks, they have almost resorted to using the dog clippers on each other. “Opening the hair salons and restaurants will bring back a sense of hope that we will get back somewhere near to what normal should be,” Phillip said. “We’ll never get all the way back but, hopefully, far away from what life is like today.”

The Addisons said they are treading carefully these days but are not letting fear or concern for of the virus take away their joys of life.

Across town, rather out of town, Raymond Ledford, owner of Raymond’s Barber and Style Shop on South Brundidge Street, was cutting hair in Plein Air at his home just outside of town. Ledford dropped the clippers to his side to explain where and why he was “cutting hair in the yard.”

“I had thought the governor might let us open back up after May 15 so I took that chance to remodel my shop,” he said. “So, when Gov. Ivey said on Friday that we could open on Monday, my shop was right in the middle of ceramic tile being laid.”

Ledford, laughingly, said his customers have been saying for years that he is closing his shop.

“Well, I want them to know that Raymond has been cutting hair for 60 years and he will keep clipping along. Even if I have to cut in my own backyard.”

The vehicles that were bumped together gave a hint at the clientele that had found its way to Raymond’s outdoor barbershop.

“I’ve been waiting a long time to get back in Raymond’s chair,” said Cyril Newman. “Only two barbers have cut my hair besides Raymond. He’s an institution.”

Ledford said moving his barbershop outside wasn’t a lot of trouble. Scissors, clippers, a comb, cape and chair and, “of course, today, protective supplies.”

“I’m taking all the recommended precautions against the coronavirus and will when I get back in the shop,” Ledford said. “We have hand sanitizers and wipes, masks. Millet Dunkin made me a barber’s mask and I really appreciate it. Our customers stay six feet or more apart. Of course, I can’t cut hair from six feet away but I stand back when I’m talking.”

That brought a laugh from the peanut gallery.

Ledford said, when his customers learned that he was a home barber for a while, they started coming on Monday. “I cut 20 or more heads yesterday and I started at 8 this morning and will probably cut ’til dark,” he said. “I’ve been cutting hair for a long time and I’ve cut on porches and out in the yard many times. I can cut a head anywhere.”

Ledford said he is very appreciative of the opportunity to be back behind the chair. His hope is that one day, in the near future, life will operate under the new normal that will not be too different from what was, just a few months ago, the normal.