COVID-19 forces some salons, barbershops to adapt, others to close

Coronavirus

HAMDEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Many hair salons and barbershops are getting ready to see customers for the first time in months, after an initial delay to their Phase One reopening plan. But things are not necessarily going back to the way they were. The pandemic has also forced some businesses to permanently shutter.

At Hair on Broadway, clients are calling to book appointments. Owner Eddie Podbielski has been cleaning and putting out smocks, sanitizer and disinfectant wipes for Monday’s grand reopening.

“Prior to [the pandemic] we had a great clientele, great business,” he said. “And the bottom fell out.”

He’s optimistic, but cautious.

“I don’t expect it to be a mad rush to the door,” he said. 

But as Podbielski gets ready to light his open sign back up, on the other end of Whitney Avenue, another light is dimming for good.

“This virus knocked us out,” said Andy Barbaro, of Esquire Barber Shop.

On Friday, instead of preparing to reopen, Barbaro was packing up. He’s putting down the clippers and retiring his barber’s chair after 47 years on the block.

Barbaro said he’s not able to adapt to the governer’s strict guidelines on social distancing and personal protective gear.

“I can’t put up with all the sterilizations; I have to put up shields. There’s too many rules. I figure I’m 80-years-old. It’s time to quit.”

The pandemic forcing hard choices for small businesses.

“I loved them all,” said Barbaro of his customers. “I made a lot of friendships through a whole bunch of years, and I’m going to miss them. I wish I could see them all in person but I can’t.”

Barbaro said his shop will reopen someday. He’s passing the baton to an associate.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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