COVID-19 trimming business at barbershops, hair salons, and small medical offices

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- On Tuesday, Alvatenekka Whitaker stood by her empty barber chair, hoping to cut someone's hair.

During a normal day at American Tobacco Barbershop in Durham, Whitaker has 10 to 12 customers.

On Monday, she only had one.

"One a day, two a day. You start getting into a panic," she said.

The single mother from Burlington says that fear around the spread of COVID-19 has slowed foot traffic to the shop. She also said more of her clients are now working from home, which is cutting into her paycheck.

"I'm still showing up to work. Because I'm optimistic that there will be those people that will be bored," Whitaker said. "The barbershop is still open."

Some salons and barbershops are making the sad decision to close.

Renaissance Barbershop in South Durham is emailing its customers about its changes.

"We are temporarily suspending all barbershop services and operations in response to COVID-19," the business said.

At Uncle Short's shoe shine in downtown Durham, the owner, Mark Grant, is open but losing money.

"I make $100, $200 a day shining shoes. But since the coronavirus came in, yesterday I made nothing," Grant told ABC11.

As for small businesses operating in specialized medicine, such as chiropractors, optometrists and dentists, some are deciding to stay open with modifications.

The State Board of Dental Examiners announced this week that "dentists should consider postponing elective or non-urgent care for two weeks beginning today."

Dr. Arthur Reynolds at Trophy Smiles Dental said that is exactly what his office is doing.

"Right now we have reduced our hours to the point where we are not open as much as we were," Reynolds said.

On Tuesday, business at Complete Chiropractic across from the Streets at Southpoint was anything but usual.

Dr. Kevin McLaughlin said his regular clientele is down 50 percent. His customers are canceling or not rescheduling appointments.

"It's getting a little bit worse as each week goes on," McLaughlin said. "Come to work and do the best you can for your patients. And hope this ends soon"

These businesses said they are making sure their spaces are sanitized regularly and advising sick patients to stay home.
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