OLEAN — As the local region inches toward the reopenings of businesses in the second phase of Western New York’s economic restart on June 2, local salon owners shared thoughts on how they plan to get up and running again.
At Ray’s Hairstyling & Barbershop at 229 N. Union St., owner Laurie Ryan said she hopes an official decision on reopening salons will be issued by the state soon.
“I haven’t heard anything myself,” Ryan said Thursday. “I’m preparing for (the reopening) as far as the office supplies that I need. I just had a meeting with my staff, and I broke my staff up into two shifts to practice the social distancing.
Ryan has posted signs in her shop instructing what will be required in practicing social distancing.
“What we’re going to do is recommend that people call in and make an appointment,” she said. “We also have a high volume of walk-in customers that we are going to have sign a sheet with their name and phone number so they can wait outside” until a beautician or barber is ready for them to come in.
Ryan said the customers will also be asked, before entering, if they have been ill or around anyone who has been sick. The customers’ temperatures will also be taken before entering and everyone must wear a face mask in the salon.
“What I’ve also done is hang curtains between each station to make (customers) feel a little more safe when we clean up (and sanitize) between customers,” she added. “It’s going to be different … that’s why I have the mandatory meetings” for the 13 employees who will work in two separate shifts.
Ryan said she has gotten many phone calls from customers who are excited and anxious about returning to the salon.
“They call and say, ‘I need a haircut … I’m desperate, I’m desperate,’” she said of customers. “We’re very anxious, too, to get back to work.”
She said the salon has maintained practices for cleanliness in the past, so the new mandates will fall in line with their previous cleaning regimen.
With that said, Ryan said the exact nature of what will be required is still “kind of up in the air right now” until more information is provided by the state.
“This is definitely something we’ve never experienced in our lives,” she added. “We sure have made history here.”
At A Jason Clemons Salon at 102 N. Clinton St., Leslie Moffett, an owner and manager, said the shop is also preparing for the possibility of reopening June 3, if that should be permitted.
“We’ve been shut down since March 21 and instead of trying to book everybody (for a possible opening) and then rebooking them (if the state holds back on salons), we’re going to wait.”
Moffett said despite the uncertainty, some of the employees have been at the salon every day.
“We’ve been doing curbside pick-up (of products for customers) since we’ve been allowed,” she explained. “It’s the closest thing to being open, it’s so our guests are able to receive the professional hair care (products) that they’re used to, and not have to get over-the-counter things.”
Moffett said the staff have also remodeled and restructured the business in preparation for the reopening.
“We got rid of all the magazines and the coffee bar with snacks and suckers — the kids are going to be very disappointed. But it’s a process,” she said.
This is being done to provide a safe environment for the staff and guests, who will all be required to wear masks.
“We’re following those rules so we can get opened and stay open,” she added. “I’m sure we’ll be at limited capacity with a maximum of 10 people when we first open.”
She said the business has eight stations, 14 employees and will have styling at every other work area to keep everyone six feet apart. No double-booking will be done and appointments will be done 15 minutes apart to give staff time to sanitize the stations.
A sanitizing area will also be located at the front of the shop where guests will be able to clean their hands. In addition, disposable masks will be available for those who forget them.
“Our guests love coming here, it’s important getting their hair done and it makes them feel good, so we want to make sure we follow all the guidelines,” she stated.
Moffett, who taught in the cosmetology industry for a number of years, noted the profession requires training in health and sanitation for all of its licensees.
“The curriculum with cosmetology is 1,000 hours in New York state and a certain amount of that time is on sanitation and sterilization,” she remarked. “We also learn a lot about infectious disease, blood borne pathogens and controlling that. And we learn anatomy and physiology.”
On a final note, she said cosmetologists are the only professionals who are legally licensed to touch people, other than those in the medical field.