A Salon Owner Worries About The Lockdown's Impact On Her Business

May 9, 2020
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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

New Jersey has the second-most COVID deaths in the U.S. and remains in near lockdown. After seven weeks and counting of suspending work, many small business owners worry they may not be able to keep their employees.

CHRISTINE MACCARONE: I'm afraid my girls may not come back to work. They may go out and find another job. They need money to survive.

SIMON: Christine Maccarone owns a mobile hair salon in Mickleton, N.J. It's called Salon Giovanina. She and her five stylists usually cut, wash and set hair in nursing homes and hospitals. It's not clear when New Jersey might give the signal for a business like hers to reopen, but Ms. Maccarone is trying to prepare.

MACCARONE: I have everything ready to go for my girls. I have, you know, masks. I have shields. I got everything I need to protect them. It's still going to be a mess for us because, you know, we're - we can't social distance at all. We're touching people. It's very difficult in this industry to cut with gloves on. And we're going to have to limit how many people go into a hair salon. Like, before we could have up to 10 people. Now it's going to be, like, one on one. My business will be cut in half. And that's going to slow my girls down. They're not going to be making as much money as they were. They're going to be, like, upset, you know? They're going to think wow, you know, all this hard work that we do, and we're not even making any money now. So - yeah, it's really - it's a big problem all around.

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SIMON: While Christine Maccarone worries about having enough employees to keep her salon running, she's also worried about the senior citizens that it serves.

MACCARONE: I want people out there to know that they need to take the time not to forget these residents in these nursing homes. When these residents come down to the hair salons, they need us to make them feel good. Before the coronavirus, when the residents would come in, they would tell us all their stories. And, you know, it was heartbreaking. You hear their situations, how they ended up there. Families just walked away from them - and their hair and the way they look - not happy with themselves. So we kind of talk back to them as if, yeah, like, we're therapists and to encourage them. We always talk positive.

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MACCARONE: There was this lady named Margaret (ph). When I would do her hair, she would look at herself in the mirror and just stare at herself and smile. And she would, like, put her hands together and just go, oh, my God, that's me? And I go, that's you. And she was, like - was so happy. She says, you know, this makes me so happy. She would say, you know, this is all I enjoy - is coming down here and getting my hair done.

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MACCARONE: I have become so close to many of these residents. I feel like I can talk to them better than my family, you know? They give me great advice. If I have a problem, sometimes, they help me out, you know? So they're like my therapist, to be honest with you. I will do whatever it takes to keep every resident out there safe. I'm hoping my business will be back, but, you know, I can always find another job. Safety comes first. They're more important.

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SIMON: Christine Maccarone from Mickleton, N.J.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.