November 27, 2021

Barbers, salons cope with closure amid coronavirus

On a razor’s edge

Colin Spencer/staff reporter

Nick Whitt cuts Nat Degear’s hair Saturday at The King’s Den in Cortlandville. Saturday was the last day barbershops and hair salons were allowed to operate under orders from Gov. Andrew Cuomo to close all nonessential public spaces in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

When Jayne Ellis of Freeville heard the news Friday that barbershops and hair salons would be closing indefinitely beginning Saturday night, she called Lavish Salon in Cortland to try to get an appointment as soon as possible.

“I felt like I won the lottery for getting in here today,” she said Saturday morning.

Ellis and others who got their hair cut or styled Saturday would be the last ones to do so until further notice following Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s closure of barbershops and hair salons to prevent the spread of the coronavirus by closing non-essential public gathering places.

The move followed the closures last week of movie theaters, gyms, bowling alleys and other public gathering places.

For barbershops and hair salon owners in Cortland County, the closure was met with mixed emotions.

“I understand when you’re talking about businesses in big cities but a business like mine, I have a customer here and a customer there,” said Donald Pendell, the owner and barber of Don’s Barber, Beauty & Tanning Salon in Marathon.

He said the shop doesn’t regularly get large groups and that all of his customers are local.

There had also been a reduction of people getting their hair cut before Saturday and he only had two customers as of Saturday morning, he said. With his store closing, Pendell said he just plans on staying home.

“That’s all I can do,” he said.

“We knew it was coming,” said Julie

Thomas, owner of Lavish Salon. “Obviously, it’s the best thing to do. It’s just hard working for ourselves. We have no income if we’re not here.”

Thomas said the past week brought nearly 40 clients into her business.

As one of Thomas’s clients, Ellis got her hair foiled, something she does every two months.

Ellis said with the salons closing, she won’t cut or treat her own hair for the next two months.

“Hopefully this all dies down within that time period and we can go back to our normal lives,” she said.

Thomas was also hopeful about the future.

“We’re all just trying to stay positive knowing we’re gonna get through this and we’re going to come back as soon as we can,” Thomas said.

Nick Whitt, the owner and master barber of The King’s Den barbershop in Cortlandville, said he felt uneasy about the future.

“It’s a little scary but what are you going to do,” he said.

For him, the scariest part was that he didn’t have any plans for what work he would do but hoped to open up the shop again as soon as possible.