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WA salon owner believes they could safely reopen now, if allowed

Barbershops and hair salons are among the "non-essential" businesses forced to close during the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order. (Photo by Victor J. Blue/Getty Images)

Salons, barbershops, and beauticians are out of work right now due to the pandemic closures. Phase one of the reopening plan in Washington state is not going to include these types of businesses, but phase two might. In Puyallup, Priority Beauty Bar is caught in the stay-at-home order and owner Lauren Konieczny joined the Jason Rantz Show to discuss her struggles.

“I don’t really know what Inslee plans on doing,” Konieczny  said. “We have no guidance or any kind of direction on when that’s going to happen. Things we’ve had to think about is what it will look like when we open, how we’re going figure appointments, how we’re going to space our stations, what kind of PPE is required … the list is endless.”

Priority Beauty Bar has a similar model to most in the industry where they essentially rent out the space. They don’t necessarily have numerous employees, which means they’re impacted in a different way and not qualifying for the same assistance. How has the shutdown impacted the business under that model?

“I understood the shutdown,” she said. “But since then, we’ve been left with little to no help, no guidance, no idea of when we’ll be able to open again. … There’s the SBA loan. Every single one of my girls applied for that.”

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“Unemployment has been insane. Some of us have gotten it, some of us haven’t. I’ve been lucky enough to get something, but it’s the minimum … there’s hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that haven’t received anything, so it’s crazy. And with the grants, we can’t get any of those either, because we don’t have three or more employees,” she said.

That said, Konieczny’s landlord has been accommodating during this time, though she continues to have to adapt.

“We are really fortunate, and I know not all salons are in the same position,” she said. “Our landlord is amazing. He’s worked with us. I still have to pay rent, but it’s less than what our normal dues are. So basically, he’s taken his profit out is what I assume.”

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“But it’s still a lot of money, so I’ve been having to sell hair products out of my car, do local deliveries, that sort of thing in order to even cover that.”

All things considered, does Konieczny believe she could reopen today and keep the employees and customers safe?

“I do, honestly, and I know I may get a lot of flak for that. … We are trained in safety and sanitation, we use so much cleaning products, Barbicide, rubbing alcohol,” she said. “Obviously we would have to add things into what we normally do, like maybe taking a temperature, wearing masks, that sort of thing.”

“We can’t practice social distancing, but we can control our environment a lot better than a lot of other businesses that are open,” she added.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3 – 6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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