By Nathan Ham
It was nearly two months to the day from when Haircut 101 had to close at 5 p.m. on March 25 to last Friday, May 22 at 5 p.m. when John Mena, owner of Haircut 101, reopened the salon with a familiar face in his chair.
Leslie Kramer was John’s final customer two months ago and his first customer on Friday as salons, barbershops, and other personal care facilities were allowed to reopen under Phase 2 of Governor Roy Cooper’s plan to restart the North Carolina economy.
“After two months my hair looks like a cat has been messing with it. I’m super happy to be back here,” she laughed. “Women did what they could from the store shelf, but now we are super happy to be able to go back to our salons.”
Mena was just as happy to be back in the comforts of Haircut 101 and see some familiar faces but is still a little nervous about what the future may hold.
“I’m really happy to be open! We’ve had lots of positive responses from people wanting to get back in. Their looks are also part of their DNA. People, both men and women, feel better if they look better,” he said. “It’s happy and scary at the same time. We’re not going to be able to work at our full potential and we won’t be able to see the amount of people we used to see – it’s scary to think about the repercussions of that. It’s really strange to hit the pause button for two months and not have repercussions from it. I’m hoping we all learn a lot from this.”
John said that he’s not sure how well running his business will go working at just 50 percent capacity. “This is all going to be a big experiment. We have no idea what this country is going to look like a year from now and even further down the road from that.”
Haircut 101 went through a deep cleaning during the two months of downtime, something that almost every business is having to do as they reopen during this COVID-19 pandemic.
“I completely did a deep cleaning on the salon during the shutdown. We took all of our equipment out and scrubbed down everything from the rafters down and did a repainting of everything and sanitized everything. This place is clean and we’re open for business and hoping for the best,” Mena said. “Everyone here is wearing facemasks. We will be cleaning thoroughly between clients. We have a UV light machine we turn on at night that kills all bacteria and viruses and we have UV light wands that we use on our equipment through the day so we’re doing what we can.”
As North Carolina slowly begins to reopen, John hopes that people will have respect for one another, regardless of their opinions about businesses reopening and people venturing back out and traveling more and more.
“There are a lot of unknowns that have contributed to this mass hysteria and scariness; it’s scary because of not really knowing where the enemy is. But the question is how long do we stay shutdown? Some people are saying until we find a vaccine that could be 12 to 18 months down the road. I don’t think a lot of Americans have the wherewithal to sit still for that long and to not go out to their jobs. A lot of us are defined by our jobs, it’s in our DNA. It’s scary to be sitting at home relying on the government to provide for you when you know the monies are going to run out,” he said. “I’m for people feeling safe, and if you are feeling vulnerable and scared, I think you should stay home. But for people who do go out, they should have respect for other people. Wear a mask when required to. It’s very important to have respect not only for yourself but for others as well.”