DANVILLE, Va. — Lou Williamson likes the “junk talk” that comes with owning a barbershop. The endless hours of talking sports or music with customers. Those conversations went silent for almost two months while his shop was closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, “You miss just talking trash and whatever basketball or football,” said Williamson.
His Danville, Virginia barbershop is quite no longer but the trash-talking is not close to what it was. On some days more than a dozen people would be sitting inside talking as barbers work. The shop is open but only 10 people can be inside so the trash-talking is limited to Williamson and the person who’s getting a haircut, “We have to make sure the shop doesn’t get too crowded, so people have to wait outside or in their cars,” said Williamson.
On many days the shop was both social hangout and barbershop. People would often wait for a couple of hours and just chat with whoever else was waiting to get a haircut before it was their turn, “It’s a lot different man, usually in a barbershop it’s first come first serve, next man up in the chair,” said Williamson.
While he is glad to be back open there are many restrictions and guidelines that must be followed. All customers and barbers are required to wear masks, only 10 people are allowed inside the shop at a time and capes are replaced after every customer, “I’m good with it as long as we are able to work and get back to the life as we know it,” said Williamson.
Across town at Kokomo Salon customers are greeted with a handwritten sign alerting them they must be wearing a mask to enter the building. Owner Vivian Adkerson has spent the past two months deep cleaning the salon and spacing out work stations, “I don’t even have a mirror in front anymore I just hand them a hand mirror, you got to do what you got to do,” said Adkerson
The salon opened last Friday and has been busy for the past several days. With limitations on people inside at one time, stylists can no longer work on two or even three customers at a time. Appointments are made and must be spaced out for each customer, “We ask that people wait in the car outside or have chairs set up,” said Adkerson.
It’s only been a few days but Adkerson estimates sales are off by about 60-percent simply because stylists can only manage about eight appointments a day versus 12 to 14, “You just can't get to as many people in a day,” said Adkerson.
Neither Adkerson or Williamson is complaining, unlike their fellow stylists and barbers to the south at least they are open, “I’ve got family members that cut hair in Greensboro and Reidsville and I do feel for them,” said Williamson.
An announcement on whether salons and barbershops can reopen in North Carolina is expected later this week. Phase 2 is scheduled to start on Friday, but Governor Cooper has yet to make an official announcement and it’s unclear if it will include salons and barbershops.
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