Kamran Ali is a medical student studying in Chicago but was on his way home to New York May 15 when he stopped for gas in Hubbard.
When he learned that barber shops and beauty salons were opening in Ohio – Chicago and New York are still locked down – he started calling around looking for a barber shop that could take him. Walt Wolanin of Family Cuts in Brookfield, 6771 Warren Sharon Road, had an opening.
“I definitely need one,” Ali said of a haircut, noting he had given himself a trim a while back and “messed it up, a little bit.”
Ohio is emerging from its COVID-19 quarantine, and Family Cuts, Swartz’s Barber Shop and Stacy’s Glam Studio were busy with their first customers since the lockdown began in March. Restaurants with patios also were allowed to open their outdoor seating areas, and Laddie’s Sky Club took advantage.
“It’s been crazy,” said Neal Swartz, who at 11:30 was seeing his seventh customer since he opened at 7 a.m. on an appointment-only basis at 348 Bedford Road SE.
Swartz, who used the time off to renovate his barber shop, limits the number of customers who can enter his shop to one, with the parking lot now a waiting room. Each customer has to wear a mask while he works on them, and there’s a learning curve in cutting hair with mask straps around the ears.
“I’ve cut a couple masks today,” he said.
Swartz worked on Bob Nogay of Hermitage, whose patronage of the barber shop goes back more than 30 years, when Swartz’s father ran the shop.
Nogay noted this was his first trip away from home, other than to go to the grocery store.
“I’ve been in the house for weeks and weeks and weeks,” he said. “I need a haircut. I think everybody does.”
Even though Nogay took advantage of the first day allowed to get a haircut, he said he thought it would have been safer to wait another couple weeks before things opened up.
“I’m glad you’re back, but I don’t think you should be,” Nogay told Swartz.
Barbara Bodiford of Warren was the first customer for Stacy’s Glam Hair Studio, which moved from Brookfield Center to 7126 Warren Sharon Road, behind First National Bank, during the quarantine.
“I couldn’t wait,” Bodiford said, noting her last appointment was scheduled for just after the shop had to be shut down. “I was like a kid at Christmas. I haven’t had my hair done since February.”
Shana Haines of Warren said a hair appointment was a welcome respite from her grueling work schedule. She works six to seven days a week for a food company.
“I’m glad to get out and not have to work, being able to get something that I deserve,” she said, thankful for the “pampering” she receives at Glam Hair Studio.
Bodiford and Haines said they love owner Stacy Adkins’ new space. Adkins said she had wanted to expand to offer services such as nails and tanning, and the hiatus gave her a chance to look for a new location that suited her dreams.
She said she spent every day at the shop renovating the space, and expected she would have at least until June to complete the work. She didn’t, so the tanning studio is not yet ready, she said.
Although Adkins said she expects to work longer hours and see fewer customers because of government regulations, she said she was not complaining.
“I’m so happy to be back,” she said, calling her studio her “home,” and saying that she relaxes when she works.
“This isn’t work for me,” she said.
Marian Baun, who works with Adkins, returns to the space that used to be her Marian’s East of Eden Hair Studio. She noted the new space doesn’t have steps, so she hopes that some of her former customers who could not make the steps at the old Glam Hair Studio in Brookfield Center will find her again.
“I’m glad to be back at my former salon with Stacy,” Baun said.
Wolanin said the morning had been “rough.”
“A lot of customers, but you gotta do what you gotta do,” he said. “I don’t mind it. A lot of customers are my friends. It’s good to see them.”
As she lounged on the patio at Laddie’s, 8189 Warren Sharon Road, Dottie Derr wasn’t worried about her hair. When asked why she came out today, she lifted her bottle of Bud Light.
“Nice to be able to get a beer,” interpreted her husband, Chuck.
“It was hard being locked up like that,” Mrs. Derr said.
“It’s real nice to get out and be around people again,” Derr said. “Different scenery.”
Mike Heasley of Greenville sat on the Laddie’s patio with a buddy who did not want to be identified. They had been out driving around, checking out some shops, when his buddy suggested they go to Laddie’s, a place Heasley hadn’t been to in years, he said. He ordered spicy onion kickers and a beer and was enjoying the food and the sunshine.
“It’s nice,” he said. “It was weird not being able to go places, do things.”
Heasley, who works in the medical field, said he supported reopening businesses.
“It needs to be done,” he said.