Hair salons get back to business but with restrictions

Business owners welcome customers while seeking more state guidance

SAUKVILLE’S SALONS OF Conservancy Court co-owner Tammy Allen began cutting customers hair on Monday after the state Supreme Court struck down Gov. Tony Evers’ Safer-at-Home order last week. Photo by Sam Arendt
Ozaukee Press Staff

Area hair salons are back in business after being closed since late March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Wednesday, May 13, struck down Gov. Tony Evers’ Safer-at-Home order, allowing certain businesses to return to normal operations. Since then, local stylists have been busy rescheduling nearly two months of appointments and they are preparing their shops to be in accord with government guidelines.

“I feel that the state came out a little bit late on its decision. The guidelines are all pretty much information we already know except for the social distancing and wearing masks,” North Shore Hair Design owner Sharon Waranka said. “We want people to come in at their own free will. We are not forcing people to get their haircuts.” 

Waranka said her Port Washington business was to open on Wednesday, May 20. She said customers should expect her store to look a little different since they last visited due to certain restrictions such as having no waiting area between appointments, a sneeze guard at the front desk and acrylic plastic covering the surfaces of the workstations. 

“We really want to get back to work and for things to return to normal, but we are going to take the precautions that we need to take to make sure everybody is safe and comfortable in our salon,” she said. 

Waranka is requiring customers to wear masks, but she said she will re-evaluate the decision in the coming weeks.

“We want to accommodate all people in our salon and I think it’s a small thing to ask of customers to bring a mask for the safety of everyone,” she said. “There are some people who are sensitive to what’s going on right now and we want to provide a safe service to everybody.” 

Cindy Goebel of Centre Court Hair Design in Port said she is requiring her employees to wear masks and is offering personal protective equipment to customers for sale. 

During the down period, Goebel said it was tough not being able to work.

“I went through every emotion. I was thinking, is this what retirement is going to be like and when will I get back to work?” she said.

Goebel said her 10 stylists have adequate workspace with at least eight feet between workstations, but she is critical of the state’s health guidelines.

“There are no specifics on wearing masks. I don’t feel that we received enough direction from the state,” she said.

Goebel said she received word on March 17, about three hours before her business was ordered to close. During that time, Goebel said she was scrambling to get her affairs in order.

“I thought it was ridiculous that we only had a few hours to figure things out before we shut down. It was very chaotic and we were trying to finish up our appointments and calling our clients to reschedule for an unknown period of time,” she said.

Her salon re-opened on Tuesday, and Goebel said she is glad to see her longtime customers.

“It’s like seeing your family after two months,” she said.

Co-owner Tammy Allen of Salons of Conservancy Court in Saukville said her 3,000-square-foot salon, which was remodeled last year, is made for social distancing.

“Because of our new layout, we are already separated by six to eight feet,” Allen said, noting she recently installed a protective curtain between the salon’s shampoo bowls. 

Allen said she is limiting operations to one customer in the store per stylist at a time to reduce the number of people, which could become an issue for parents trying to fit in multiple children for an appointment.

“That is making it difficult for parents to schedule because they might not have another parent at home to watch the rest of their kids, but it’s for everybody’s safety,” Goebel said. “We ask that parents drop their child off at the door and wait outside in their car. But if they need to be with them, we will let them sit next to them in the booth space.” 

Allen said she has a thermometer to check her temperature multiple times a day and will do so at a client’s request. She also makes her customers sign a waiver to ensure she isn’t liable for any illness.

“Whatever the customer needs to feel safe, we will be willing to do. Even if it’s something we don’t have, we would add it,” she said. “We want people to feel totally safe and we’re doing the best we can.”

Allen credits Wayne’s Drive-In for helping support her business when it was shut down. Last month, the Cedarburg eatery donated a portion of its proceeds to help keep salon afloat.

L.A. Hair Design co-owner Amy Wilsnack said she recently set up two ultraviolet light air purifiers that run at night to ensure her Port Washington salon is sanitized. She has also moved the workstations further apart to ensure social distancing.

Wilsnack’s salon opened on Monday and she said she is excited to see customers, but she is slightly apprehensive because the state’s guidelines are not clear.

“We have guidelines for us, but they’re not necessarily rules and not all people follow them the same way, which makes it a little bit more difficult,” she said. “Without having actual rules set in place for everybody to follow is hard to do because you don’t know where your customers are coming from and who they exposed themselves to.

“There are some customers who said that they won’t wear a mask, so do we let them in or not? We don’t know because there is no actual law about it.”

Wilsnack said she is no longer offering coffee or tea to customers in the waiting room because of the pandemic.

“Obviously, you can’t drink it if you’re wearing a mask,” she said, laughing. “I hope this isn’t the new normal, but I think it will be like this for at least the next few weeks. I can’t imagine this continuing.” 

All salon owners interviewed for this story applied for Small Business Administration loans to support their business during the down period, but some of them said they are waiting to hear back from the government.

During that time, Wilsnack said she had to tap into her personal savings.

“We had to pay our rent and other bills with no income coming in,” she said. “Did I want to use my money out of my savings account to keep my business running that wasn’t open? No, but I didn’t have a choice.”




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