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Traditionally for most salons, December hauls in such a high volume of service, retail and gift card sales, it almost creates a 13th month of revenue. In this chaotic year, when the pandemic forced temporary salon closures, most owners were counting on those additional holiday sales to help them recover lost income.
For many California salons, that hope has been dashed. With COVID-19 cases continuing to spike, and available beds in ICU units sparse, the state implemented a third shutdown order this year that forced many salons to close until January 4.
SALON TODAY reached out to a handful of California owners, and asked them how they and their team members are coping:
“A vast majority of Californians want to do the right thing, but we are growing weary of the policies that are inconsistent and continue to change. We, as small businesses, are also facing a ‘damned if we do (open), and damned if we don’t’ situation. It has created defiance among salon owners. We, as leaders, are faced to make our decisions between personal beliefs and peer pressure. It almost seems political. Many have chosen to paper up their windows and use back doors. We are aware that the public is very torn between their own safety measures and have very different views. There is also the fact that hairdressers need to make money and some live paycheck to paycheck, which is forcing them to go ‘underground’ by going house-to-house or creating backyard salons. Is this safer than our VERY sanitized salons? What our team all agreed was to put health first, and we are currently choosing to close. We gathered on the last day and pretty much voted what to do. We had our Christmas party outside the salon, and we wished each other an early Happy Holidays. It was very heartbreaking, and there were a lot of tears. We are ‘allowed’ to retail, and we are now doing a big blast to promote retail days, color kits, website sales, and just plain Venmo donations to your stylist if you want to support them. And we are looking at doing a Christmas cookie sale, and the salon will match the proceeds to give back to our stylists. We did this during our second shutdown and handed $3,000 out to our team.”—Gayle Fulbright, Headlines The Salon, Encinitas, CA
“This third shut down has been the biggest blow. During the second shut down we protested, marched, petitioned, and ’socialed’ all over the place, and wE were heard! We, in CA, got re-classified. We got what we worked so hard for and what we were due…To be open based on data that shows salons are not spreaders of COVID-19. This news came as such a welcomed surprise. We felt secure that our business after two shut downs, (we were only able to open 2 of the 3 salons back up after the second shut down) would be able to start to rebuild. We implemented more than the CDC and BBC asked of us, we have ongoing education for our team, our guests. We put in place a reimbursement program that pays for our team to be tested as often as they like, and we reimburse up to $100 of their testing. If someone felt off, had a runny nose or just needed a mental health day….we were happy to offer that and more. As we dove into building our business and morale back up, and we got through the mass input of guests after being closed, we, like others, found that many guests did not want to come back or did not feel safe to come back. We had to put our ‘new business’ hats on and dig out all of our business-building assets and get to work. With many new guests coming in the door daily, we felt hope and gratitude that we were only 15% down from the previous year, month over month. Committed to rebuilding stronger than ever, our hope became a nightmare on December 6th at midnight. We were mandated to shut down again. Closure #3 meant at the end of 2020, our doors were only opened 7 months out of the 12 in 2020. To be honest, with the COVID cases growing, I feel it is safer to be closed, BUT we need help. We need financial assistance. Our PPP, like most, is GONE. Now we are left with extraordinary tax liabilities and the landlords knocking on the doors….WE need financial support!!! Some of the marketing we are doing while closed include:
- Open for Retail Sales Thursday - Saturdays 11/5
- Custom Color Kits for at-home use
- Luxury consultations for new guests to provide Custom Color Kits, Color Gloss or Deep Conditioning treatments for at-home use
- Gift Certificate Specials (Buy $100 and receive $120 Gift Cert, $300 receive $360, $500 receive $600 Gift Cert) This will inspire our guests to invest in their services for 2021 and encourage their friends to come with gifts
- We have beefed up or social game
- WE will be connecting with our staff on Zoom for updates and an early year-end bonus program (We have a $100g club annually and we usually celebrate our team at our New Year Kick Off Event….this year we are doing an early, pro-rated bonus program and celebrating this amazing team)
- We are planning a drive by Love Parade for the team next week with Love Packages from the heart from Karla and myself.”—Keri Davis-Duffy, co-owner of Gila Rut Salons in San Diego, CA
“It’s hard to explain how I feel. Of course, I am devastated that we are closing again. By the time this year ends, we will have spent more time closed than open. Things would surely sit a little better with me if our health officials had any data linking the spread of COVID-19 to salons being open, but I’m still not willing to defy the order. I have to just trust that these decisions are being made thoughtfully because it's all I can do. The most upsetting factor is the lack of monetary support. We haven’t had any funding since May, and it’s just not sustainable. I fear that this will lead to a massive amount of permanent closures in our industry.”—Candice Gliatto, director Citrus Salon in Martinez, CA
“Our county never reopened midyear, so this is really the second shut down for us. If we really get to open January 4 as promised, that will bring us to just about seven months without income this year. We had such high hopes for this holiday to redeem this year for the business and our staff financially, but alas, it was not to be. One of my two locations was a casualty of COVID—it was not able to survive the six-month loss of revenue, and we had to close it down November 1, only two months after we were able to reopen. We were lucky that we were able to move all of this location’s employees over to our main location as of the beginning of November. They barely got a month in, which is heartbreaking. “We’ve all been through so much this year, and it’s taking a lot of inner strength and the amazing support of so many friends in the industry to look ahead and have faith that we will be stronger after the vaccine rolls out. One thing I know for sure is that salons are essential, and we aren’t spreading COVID. We are hoping that 2021 will have better days ahead for us.”—Karie Bennett, Atelier Studio, San Jose, CA
“This truly is a big blow to so many people out there. I own Hyde Ewards in little Italy and have a team of 47 people, both employees and independent stylists. I think the hardest part, is that as an owner, I can’t charge rent to my independents, it just simply feels wrong. I think the biggest help to us all is to have aid to help with our landlords—rent is the biggest problem. When we can’t generate income, we can not pay our overhead.”—Rebecca Hyde Edwards, Hyde Edwards Salon and Spa in San Diego, CA
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