What seemed unimaginable at this time last week is very quickly becoming a reality. As the country faces an unprecedented health situation, many salon owners are faced with the tough decision of remaining open or closing up shop.
American Salon shared a poll on Instagram asking followers if it’s better to get ahead of the pandemic or to wait for guidance before making a decision on closing, and the results were rather surprising. More than half (56%) said salon owners should act now, but 44% said it’s best to wait for further direction.
While there are a number of precautions salons can take to prevent the Coronavirus spread, the truth of the matter is there’s no guarantee. That said, three different salon owners have made the choice to close their businesses to protect their staff and clients. “We have physical contact with our clients daily,” says Stephanie Shellenberger, a salon owner in West Chester, PA. “It doesn’t matter how clean our salon may be. We’re putting ourselves and our clients at risk by ignoring recommendations by the government,” she says.
Jess Dworniczak, a Sola Studio owner in Horsham, PA agrees. “I wasn’t buying into the hype at first. Then, I started hearing reports from other countries saying they wished they took it seriously sooner. I don’t want that to be us,” she says. Dworniczak posted on Instagram stating that her salon would be closed until April 1, and her clients responded well. “I’ve been keeping in touch with my clients through social media letting them know it might be coming,” she says. “Eventually I pulled the trigger, and everyone has been more than understanding.”
Ashlee Allen, a salon owner in Ferndale, MI, made the same difficult decision for the sake of her and her clients’ safety. “Even though I only see seven clients a day, I don’t know where they’ve been prior,” Allen says. When her salon was still open, Allen was wiping down surfaces every 30 minutes. “It was all really stressful,” she says. “There’s truly no way to make sure you don’t get it unless you’re following social distancing rules.”
In the beauty industry especially, time is money, and small businesses will continue to take an incredibly hard hit from the pandemic. “Realistically, I don’t think anyone can afford this,” Dworniczak says. “I would love to see everyone jump on board and close their salons, but I don’t begrudge anyone for the decisions they have to make.”
This decision comes down to more than just dollars. “Even though we don’t have the luxury of paid time off, this goes way beyond money for me,” she says. “This is going to get worse before it gets better, and at the end of the day I know I made the right choice for myself and my family.”