Barbershop, salon owners say business is slowing again in pandemic


The coronavirus pandemic has changed everyone's daily routines

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — When Multnomah County opened for business again, salon owners said they saw a rush of customers. Now, more than a month later, several shop owners say business has slowed down considerably because of how the pandemic has changed everyone’s daily routines.

As cases of COVID-19 continue to rise, our lives are nowhere close to being back to normal. And because of that, two salon owners say they are doing almost half of the business they typically would be during these summer months.

The owners of both Slabtown Barbershop in Northwest Portland and Evolution Hair Design in downtown said they were slammed for the first few weeks when they opened.

“June, July, and August are like the months for us as far as business goes,” explained Marty Caballero, owner to Slabtown. “It’s hot outside, people get their hair cut short, and so we kind of almost bank on the summer rush being, like, the big moneymaker for the year.”

Slabtown Barbershop, located in Northwest Portland, July 31, 2020 (KOIN)

Patty Putnam, the owner of Evolution Hair Design, had a similar experience.

“It was extremely busy,” said Putnam. “You know, lots of phone calls, lots of people wanting to know exactly what the procedures were.”

Both shop owners now say they are seeing fewer and fewer customers each week. As business has dropped off, they think it’s because so many people are still working from home.

“It has really slowed down in the past couple weeks, and that is not something I’d anticipated so soon,” said Putnam.

“Up here in our neighborhood in Northwest Portland, we really get a lot of lunchtime, afternoon business from Montgomery Park and Montgomery Park is a ghost town right now,” said Caballero. “Everyone’s working from home, so it’s a big part of our normal, daily business is just kind of gone.”

“I asked the manager of the building earlier this week: how many people do you think are actually working in the building right now,” said Putnam. “And he said, well, probably about 20 or 30. And it’s like, yeah, well, that’s why a lot of our customers are not here.”

She also said they have had customers cancel appointments because of the protests downtown.

A customer at a Portland barber shop, July 31, 2020 (KOIN)

“It’s not just us, not just our business. It’s every business,” said Putnam. “Then, when you add the fact that we’re in downtown or close to downtown Portland, it make it, I think, harder for all of the downtown businesses because of the rioting—not the protesting so much—just this rioting that they show in the middle of the night.”

Both shop owners said they also know there are others who just aren’t ready to venture out yet. That’s why they are doing everything they can to keep people safe, like wearing face masks, cleaning constantly, and restructuring the salons to maintain social distance.

Just as we are all adjusting, these businesses plan to as well. The owners say they are now working to reach out to people who live near their businesses to see if they can bring in new customers to make sure for the lull in business.

Continuing Coverage: Coronavirus

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