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Barbershops And Personal Care Services Feel The Effects Of Coronavirus Shutdowns

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

You can see it already - wives are giving their husbands haircuts. Women are doing their own nails. People are coloring their own hair at home. Well, that's how customers of personal care businesses are faring, but what about the people who used to be working at all the hair salons, barbershops and nail spas that have been ordered to close? How are those companies staying afloat during this pandemic? Well, to check in on them, we're going to turn now to Frank Holmes. He owns Sharp Line Cuts Barber Shop in Ashburn, Va. And he joins me now.

Hey there.

FRANK HOLMES: Hey, Ailsa. How you doing? Thank you for having me.

CHANG: I'm good. Thanks for joining us. So I understand that you are completely closed now because you're in Virginia, and there is a stay-at-home order that lasts until June. How are you guys staying afloat?

HOLMES: We are basically just trying to do our very best. Some of us have a little bit of savings. Others do not, so we are filing for unemployment, things like that.

CHANG: I mean, it's different - right? - for your business because restaurants - they can offer some takeout, maybe some delivery services. Some other small businesses are selling items online. But for a barbershop, I mean, is there anything to offer?

HOLMES: Unfortunately, no, there's nothing else that we can do. So we have to rely on the federal government and our local governments to step in and give us that support, but that's just about it.

CHANG: Wow. So what are you hearing from the people who used to work for you? Like, how are they surviving right now?

HOLMES: Well, we are advising them not to, you know, cut hair from house to house. But a lot of them are kind of, like, resorting and doing that. And this is going to keep the spread of the pandemic out there. So unfortunately, we are just telling them, hey, listen; the health of your client and your health should be the utmost importance.

CHANG: Well, when you tell them that they shouldn't be doing these home visits, what do they say to you?

HOLMES: Most of them are just saying, I have to earn a living. I still have a lot of bills to pay. I still have to put food on the table. And my heart just really goes out to them. I understand. But the most important thing is to protect ourselves and our family. So this is the type of situation that we're finding ourselves in.

CHANG: I mean, let me ask about you personally. If your shop stays closed past June, what does that mean for you and your business? Is this something that your business can sustain?

HOLMES: I'm not sure we're going to be able to sustain it very long. The landlords are working with us. They are deferring the payments, but this is changing from month to month. So we really don't know how long we can be able to sustain it. I'm looking for some loans now to get from the SBA to help us out in that process. But a lot of the barbers that work - that's 1099 - it's going to be very difficult and very, very hard for them to be able to sustain this episode.

CHANG: Frank Holmes is the owner of Sharp Line Cuts in Ashburn, Va.

Thank you very much for joining us. And I wish you the best of luck.

HOLMES: Thank you for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.