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Local barbers, salons returning to normal

Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski / Jesse Glass (left) of Roaring Spring has his hair cut by Nick Torsell at Stallions Barber Shop in Altoona.

When Blair County entered the green phase of Gov. Tom Wolf’s coronavirus mitigation plan June 5, it marked the beginning of a return to normalcy for many businesses.

Local hair salons started to see customers return quickly.

“At first we were crazy busy. We had been off for three months. People are not staying away,” said Beth Luther of Colosseum Salon and Day Spa, Altoona. “It is really back to normal. People are so excited to look and feel good about themselves; that is one of the things we can control now,” she said.

Luther said her business has been following the reopening requirements.

“Our employees and clients are required to wear masks unless they have a medical condition and they are not able. We know this isn’t going away any time soon,” Luther said. “We use all precautions. We spray down the chairs and stations. We have gone to non-cloth chairs. We are very busy. We are so big we don’t have to worry about social distancing,” she said.

Luther said one problem she is facing is finding beauty supplies.

“A lot of the manufacturers aren’t open yet. Beauty supply shelves are empty, they are sparse. We are trying to get supplies from all over the United States,” Luther said. “When people come in, we try to make them feel positive. There is still an underlying anxiety we want to get rid of.”

Angela Fetzer, owner of Shear Perfections in Altoona said her business has been pretty regular.

“We had an onslaught in the beginning. July is a slow month anyway, so it has dropped off,” she said.

“The hardest thing is watching what you say — everybody has a different opinion on (the coronavirus). You need to walk the middle. One thing will offend someone, but it is OK for another, but it is pretty much back to normal,” Fetzer said. “We try to make people feel comfortable. We have stepped up our protocols.”

Fetzer said her biggest problem is finding help.

“Unemployment has made it hard to find help. People don’t want to go back to work because they are making more on unemployment than working. I have put up a sign looking for people and not one has applied. That is a bigger problem than with having people coming in,” Fetzer said.

Local barber shops are giving mixed reviews on their reopenings.

“We have been pretty busy. People are excited to get in and get a haircut,” said Nick Torsell, owner of Stallions Barber Shop in Altoona. “We had to do some different things to be safe. When we came back June 5, it was ridiculously busy; people had held out for months. It was like that for about two weeks. It still has been very busy, much like before.”

Bill Herr, owner of Triangle Barber Shop in the city, has had a different experience.

“It has been down. It is not like what it was,” Herr said. “A lot of people cut their own hair while we were off.”

Business also is down at the Broad Avenue Barber Shop, owner Ellen Forshey said.

“For the first two weeks, we were extremely busy, but then it really slowed down. We are not doing near the business we had before closing,” Forshey said.

“We started doing business by appointment only and people were not used to it. I will keep that in place after this. We will take walk-ins but they will have to wait until we have an opening,” Forshey said. “We had to remove one of our chairs for social distancing and we cut down the number of barbers on Fridays, our busiest day, from six to four.”

Marc Hoover, owner of Riverside Barber Shop in Williamsburg, said he is “going day by day, by appointments only, to control how many people are here.”

Hoover said he has been staying pretty busy.

“The people I feel bad for are those not in the habit of making an appointment. They are met with a closed sign,” Hoover said.

Hoover said he is “up in the air” about re-opening full time.

“There are a lot of uncertainties on how we will be able to operate. I don’t know when I will be able to take walk-ins. They are a big part of barber business, in general,” Hoover said.

Business is getting back to normal at Top Nails, Altoona, owner Kim Chen said.

“We still have our regular customers,” she said. “They still come in every two or three weeks. We are not taking walk-ins. Some of our customers have not returned. Everything has been ok; it is all by appointments only,” Chen said.

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.

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