Barbershops and salons face unique challenges in the COVID-19 era. Hair care services cannot be offered online, nor can they use innovative technologies to deliver updos or fades contact–free. Ultimately, whether indoors or outdoors, barbers and stylists need their hands to be within arms distance of a client to achieve the desired results – which makes the repeat lockdowns rippling across the country particularly grueling for the hair care industry.
Dave Diggs, the owner of The Barbers Inc. in San Jose, California, still needs to pay for rent, water, electricity, and WiFi despite having no revenue. “I ‘lose’ about $13,000 monthly when we aren’t open,” he told The Mercury News. The uncertainty makes it almost impossible to plan business operations. “So much stuff is up in the air,” Diggs said, “I couldn’t possibly continue to be in business without help” from the government to cover expenses with depressed revenues.
Mark Spiegelberg, who manages 11 of The Barbers chain of barbershops throughout Oregon, said the business had to “lay off all 125 employees” after the initial COVID-19 outbreak shocked the nation, and only managed to rehire 20 when the state began a phased reopening.
Last week, Oregon Governor Kate Brown cautioned the state may need to rethink its reopening, saying, “Today we are sounding the alarm because we are at risk of letting the virus spiral out of control.” Spiegelberg, the barbershop chain manager, thinks “Small businesses are kind of at a crossroads, so it’s important that we help them out,” and the best way to do that is through “additional grant programs to help firms get back on their feet.”
Establishing America’s Recovery Fund will offer stability to businesses like salons and barbershops that are otherwise at the mercy of the pandemic and the sometimes–contradictory public health orders put out by state, county, and city officials that make it nearly impossible for the hair care industry to plan around.
Through direct federal grants, the Recovery Fund will allow businesses to retain and rehire staff, pay rent, meet certain debt obligations, and pay state and local taxes. As Congress considers the latest iterations of COVID-19 relief legislation, it must take a broad approach to America’s economic recovery – not an industry-by-industry approach that leaves some worse off while dedicating funds for the exclusive benefit of others.