By Lethbridge Herald on January 15, 2021.
A mix of excitement, yet caution, greeted some local businesses when the Alberta government announced Thursday it was easing some of its public-health restrictions laid down in December due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
For local businesses such as Southern Roots Hair Design and the Catwalk Salon & Spa, that means they can open their doors once again Monday as Health Minister Tyler Shandro said personal and wellness services, including hair salons and tattoo parlours, can open by appointment only.
For Davita Deering, salon owner of Southern Roots Hair Design, that’s welcome news, but also creates a little uncertainty for what the future holds should a spike in COVID numbers shut them back down.
“My first impression was I’m super-excited to get back to work,” said Deering. “Then I kind of calmed down and thought, ‘Is this them jumping the gun a little bit?’ because they followed them saying we get to open within restrictions and then they said, ‘If the numbers surge we will shut you back down.’
“So the yo-yo effect is a little nerve-wracking and the cost that comes with opening back up is a little worrying because I don’t want to be shut down within a month.
“So I’m excited, but I’ m also nervous.”
Over at the Catwalk Salon & Spa, owner and stylist Levi Cox and his staff immediately began getting back into start- up mode the moment the word came down Thursday.
“With them stating they were going to give us a week’s notice, we think that would have been really helpful because it’s not like we’re a turn-key business that can open up and start selling frozen patties,” he said. “We need to schedule our staff and find out their schedules and their child care again and we have to look at who I can bring back and employ.
“It’s exciting, but people’s sleep schedules aren’t regular. They’ve been laid off for six weeks. You have to grease those wheels, get up early, have your coffee and try to get back on a normal routine.
“I think getting our energy levels back into producing a high volume of clients is stressful, but it is exciting.”
Still, Cox and his staff are fully aware of the situation they’re coming back to, the same one that had them ordered to be shut down.
“This is not over, we’re still in a pandemic,” he said. “It’s exciting, but we have to remember we’re still in a pandemic and our numbers are up and now we have to not just re-open, but people are tired and having the pandemic fatigue. We have to be tight on our restrictions to make sure we’re at ground zero or causing part of this problem.
“As (Alberta premier) Jason Kenney said, salons in Alberta have not shown any signs of spread. So that’s important and we want to keep that standard up. So not only are we coming back a little bit tired of this and excited, but also with restrictions in place.”
Deering is moving forward cautiously with supplies with Monday’s reopen right around the corner.
“I’ve held off purchasing all of my products until now, but now I’m worried (about) do I go full-gun and fill up everything, but then we get shut down in a month? That’s a loss of money and income.”
Meanwhile, Deering’s stylists and aestheticians have been going through their backlog of clients and rebooking them.
“From there it’s purchasing our products to get that back in (as well as) all of our cleaning supplies and making sure the shop is ready to function and all of our signage is up-to-date. It’s little bit of work, but work I’m glad to do.”
Judging by their feedback via social media, Southern Roots Hair Design’s clients are equally glad the business is back.
“As soon as the announcement happened it was a surge of text messages and phone calls, said Deering. “Everyone is happy to get back in and cover up their greys. It’s really exciting to know we have that support from our clients. It’s just a matter of getting everyone in in a COVID-friendly way.”
Cox noted his industry is based on relationships, both with his employees and his customers.
“The first time I closed down we had 24 people and reopened with 17,” he said.
“Now, as I’m contacting my staff to come back I was at 22 and I already have three people not returning, so I’m back down to 19. That throws a lot of wrenches in your schedule. People need to realize every time there’s a lockdown you lose some of those relations, clients and employees. That’s a really challenging part of this business. We came into this industry to be beauty professionals, not managing a pandemic and rescheduling and restructuring our business constantly.”
As he draws up his employees schedules and contacts clients, Cox said his customers have provided a little extra fuel.
“The clients positivity is really feeding us right now and it’s great. We’ve actually found most people have been very reasonable. If they can’t get it right away, they’re just excited and we are feeling that support.”
Like Southern Roots Hair Design, the Catwalk Salon & Spa’s clients lit up the Internet when the re-opening news broke.
“Our phones blew up through Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat (asking): Is my appointment on Tuesday still a go?” said Cox.
With the government making their decision to allow the reopen, Cox and his staff get themselves ready for Monday.
“The pressure of not opening on the 18th is other shops are open and if your clients can get in sooner they might go there,” he said. “It puts an unfair pressure on us, but the excitement of the Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat messages fuels us to get back in here and create art and hair and community.”
The impending re-open aside, Deering noted the last couple of months have been a struggle; however, not one without a lesson.
“It’s also taught me that there are ways of pivoting in your business and going a different direction to create an income to keep your business alive, especially when it wasn’t our choice to be shut down and it’s definitely not my choice to go into a massive amount of debt to keep my business open,” she said. “There’s always a way to move your viewpoint, keep fighting and move forward.”
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