With home haircuts all the buzz, sales of the Flowbee haircutting system, manufactured in nearby Kerrville, are so brisk, the website warns of shipping delays.
If you’re overdue for a professional ’do, help may be in sight now that Gov. Greg Abbott has said hair and nail salons and barber shops can open Friday, nearly seven weeks since they were ordered closed.
Hairstylist Alejandra Canizales closed her business on March 14, a full week before local authorities made it mandatory.
“I was like, I’m not safe. I’m working one-on-one … I thought it was a big risk,” Canizales said. “That’s why I decided to close.” That decision left the single mother of three teenagers without an income for eight weeks.
Canizales is one of many who are weighing their options, with some stylists, barbers, and cosmeticians planning to reopen, while others say they are not ready.
Canizales leases a suite for her Beauty Rocks business in the Salons by JC location on Dominion Drive, the largest of the six San Antonio-based Salons by JC franchises with 42 tenants. Salons by JC sites closed on March 23 in compliance with Stay Home, Work Safe orders, but did not collect rent during the shutdown from the beauty professionals who work there.
“Yesterday, as soon as we got word, [we] sent out a mass text … if they want to, they can come back to work,” said Marlene Romo Flores, marketing manager, Salons by JC. Flores doesn’t know how many tenants plan to open, but said, “There’s a lot of excitement from the ones that I personally know.”
Canizales said she’ll reopen Friday but admitted she doesn’t feel any safer now than she did back in March.
“It’s still a high risk,” she said. But her work is her passion and she has felt “devastated” without it. “And since I’m self-employed, I don’t have any help. I have not received unemployment [benefits].”
Canizales is taking precautions, however. She has already booked four clients for Friday and will split time in the studio with her business partner, Millie Levi, to limit the number of people in the suite at one time and to allow time for disinfecting between clients.
In addition, to control the spread of germs, she won’t serve beverages or snacks as she usually does nor will she blow-dry a client’s hair. Clients are required to wear a mask and arrive with clean and dry hair, she said. “It’s going to be a lot, but we are willing to do it.”
Some franchise hair salons will not reopen Friday. SuperCuts salons, with more than 20 locations in San Antonio, are currently closed, according to the company website. An opening date for Sport Clips will be determined soon, said a spokeswoman by email, adding, “Franchised Sport Clips stores and team members are following state and local opening and protective guidelines and are committed to being the cleanest place for a haircut.”
Dora Garcia, owner and operator of Tower Plaza Hair Styles, said she already has clients, including Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, and is booked all day on Friday.
“I’m like, Lord, please give me the strength to do it,” she said. “I was telling my shoeshine man, ‘I’m so nervous, I’m going to feel like it’s my first haircut.’ But they are wonderful clients.”’
Garcia also told her clients to wear a mask, and she plans to wear one, too. “I don’t know exactly the rules and regulations, but I’m trying to keep it as safe as possible,” she said. “I have the Barbicide that I have to use. It kills all the viruses, even the coronavirus.”
As of Wednesday, Steve Fuentes, owner and operator of the Metro Barber Shop on South St. Mary’s Street for 40 years, had not decided whether to open on Friday despite receiving about 20 calls from customers in the past week. Fuentes, at age 87, isn’t overly concerned about spreading the virus.
“I’m a one-barber barber shop,” he said. “I won’t have too many people in there, one or two in the shop, and that’s it.”
Like Fuentes, the owners of Snow’s Hair Salon on Austin Highway also said they have not decided when the salon will open.
At the barber shop located in the Base Exchange at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, the doors are already open. Operating on a government facility means the shop isn’t subject to the same guidelines as others in the city, said a woman who answered the phone. The shop closed for three weeks during the crisis, she said, but has since reopened.
Traveler Barbershop, which operates out of an Airstream trailer on Broadway Street and at 106 Jefferson St., told customers in an email it will open May 18, but no beard trims and shaves will be provided.
Over at Blue Skies of Texas, a retirement community where many veterans reside, the in-house salons and barbershops will not open Friday, said CEO Darrell Jones. And he has not decided on a reopening date.
“Because we have the most vulnerable segment of the population, we are ensuring we are measured and cautious with our decision,” he said.
However, Man Up Nail Salon owner Nicki Murrell has made up her mind not to open on Friday. She said it’s too soon to provide manicures, pedicures, hair styling, and massages.
“We’re in close contact with clients. That’s just not a good thing,” Murrell said. “There haven’t been enough tests run, and the governor – he said he was going on the medical advice of the CDC – well, that’s out the window because the medical advice did not say it’s OK for us to open up.”
So far, Murrell estimates she’s lost about $8,000 in revenue being closed, so she also understands why some plan to open in order to make a living. Several of her devoted clients have sent her weekly payments that have helped pay the bills, she said.
They have told her to wait and open when she’s ready. “They’re like, ‘My feet look bad, but I can live,’” she said.
The governor’s order also allows tanning salons to open Friday as long as they ensure 6 feet of social distance between stations.
The Stone Oak location of the Tansations salon will be open starting Friday, but only for those who have an appointment, said a woman who answered the phone. No walk-ins will be allowed as they were prior to March 19, when the salon closed.
Tansations, which offers spray tans and tanning beds, is going to require masks and use disinfectant for cleaning, she said.
The phones have been ringing off the hook, she said. “People are just wanting to get back to their routine.”
Reporter Jackie Wang contributed to this report.