Barbershop and hair salon owners in New York City are looking for guidance on how and when they can reopen, pleading their case as they say they’re bleeding financially.
The owners of some Bronx shops fear the pandemic will end up destroying their business, and are feeling the pressure after two months of shutdown.
“We are bleeding, that’s all I can say. We are bleeding,” said Floribel Thomas, Secretary of U.S. Beauty Salone Owners. She says she owes $35,000 in rent, and her employees haven’t worked in weeks.
“It’s heartbreaking. What do you say to your staff and the people who have worked with you for years?” she asked. “What do you say, because you are in the same boat.”
With no income coming in, some shops in the predominately Latino community are facing “an economic virus, a long-term virus,” said Bethania Perez, President of the Association of Hair Salons/New York.
Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez, who represents part of the Bronx, said there is an urgency to reopen, but barbershops and salons should not go against public health and safety.
“We are not saying, let’s open all the beauty salons and let’s have the place full of people,” Rodriguez said. “That’s not what we are saying, and what you are hearing from the ladies.
”Rodriguez said the crisis is especially hard on some who rely on beauty salons to make money because “many of them cannot qualify for unemployment.”
Owners are looking for a path forward to restart which includes guidance on what a reboot will look like.“We need preparation, we need to prepare our staff, we need to train,” said Thomas. “We might have to buy more equipment, gloves, masks, protective gear.”
Most salon and barbershop owners who spoke with NBC New York at a rally Thursday admit that without mandatory testing available for their employees, it will be nearly impossible to consider reopening hair and beauty salons. However, all say they are ready and eager to serve their loyal clients once again.
“They call you, they ask you, ‘When are you opening, what do I have to do, what do I have to wear, I need you,’” Thomas said.