Newly sanitized salons are open for business

"The first day we opened was busy, with our regular customers coming in," said Nita Say, co-owner of Nailish, a nail salon in downtown Kennett Square. Her voice is a bit muffled through her mask. Hygienic practices have been stepped up in response to COVID-19 and include a mask policy for all, clear Plexiglas shields between the technician and the customer, curtains between customers and the disposing of items between customers.

Small business that were forced to close in March have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic. Like many business owners, Say is happy to comply with any regulations that keep her open – even ones that limit her capacity to half and require she take customers by appointment only.

"We will walk through it together," said Say. Her pleasure in being open is evident as she shows off the changes that have been made to prevent the virus from spreading in their shop.

Extensive cleaning between customers starts with wiping down the front door handle and extends to sanitizing the customer's stations. To select nail color, nail technicians hold up samples instead of having customers rummaging through the painted sticks.

Barber Lounge co-owner Tyrone Brown at work.

Next door, the Barber Lounge, originally slated to open in March, has finally been able to open their doors and welcome new customers.

"Our biggest challenge is making everyone feel safe when they come in," said co-owner James Bowman. Like other services, they are open by appointment only and their capacity is limited. Even with switching to disposable capes, Bowman said, "It takes 5-10 minutes to sanitize between each customer."

The virus has delayed but not stopped the vision for this business. "Once COVID is all said and done this will be a lounge.  No need to rush out the door - stay and play chess, or connect four. We have games for kids. We have a home feeling," said Tyrone Brown, Bowman's partner.

Other businesses haven't fared as well. On the same short block of South Union Street, Blown Away closed in March and its owner will not be re-opening. A former employee confirmed that the business will be open with new owners on a future date.

Despite the many changes brought on by COVID-19, many service businesses have re-opened and are committed to providing a safe place for customers to enjoy personal care.

"Some of my customers were scared to come back," said Say, "but after they see the changes I posted on the website, then they feel good coming back."

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About Karen Myers

Karen Myers lives in Pocopson Township and has written for several local publications. A strong supporter of our community, Karen has served on several non-profit boards, such as Pocopson Elementary PTO, The United Way of Southern Chester County, Chester County Art Association and Tick Tock Early Learning Center. She received her M.B.A. from the University of Delaware and worked in marketing and operations with a focus on banking.

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