May 4, 2020
SALON MODELLO on Cadboro Bay Road temporarily closed its doors on March 21. Co-owner/operator Moira Dick described it as, “A complete shutdown. A 100 percent loss of revenue.”
She says, “It’s been really sad. I had to lay off all my employees.” Like many small business owners, Dick is grateful for the government CERB program for her employees. “I am eligible too as I’m not getting a wage. That goes into paying the rent of the building.” She noted that for most small businesses, the challenge is how to keep paying the rent on their buildings with no income coming in.
Dick and her co-owner plan to look into the government interest-free loan of $40,000 next month, when they become eligible. “Like everybody, we just wait and see. If it goes beyond three months, it’s going to be scary. That’s where the loan comes in. I don’t want to go into debt, but if we have to, we have to.”
She has a few ventures to generate some income. “We’ve joined up with Support Local which is selling gift certificates. That’s been helping. So far we’ve sold about $1000 worth of gift certificates.” Besides selling some product, she also sells some hair colour kits, “So we don’t have a lot of fix-up to do when we re-open.”
Regular texts keep Dick in touch with her staff. She knows they’re missing doing hair and seeing clients. Dick has also been calling her clients just as she would when reminding them of an appointment. “It’s like a big family and it feels strange not to be talking to them.” Like many in the profession, she has a lot of long-time clients who she is used to seeing regularly.
Dick has also been anticipating what it will be like when they get the go-ahead to reopen. “As businesses start back up, our situation is unique. They haven’t addressed what it’s going to look like for us. Will my employees feel safe to return? That’s my worry. You have to be six feet away—that’s a challenge as hair stylists. We can’t maintain six feet.” There are a lot of unknowns.
And then there’s the challenge of cutting hair and applying colour to someone wearing a face mask. Dick isn’t sure what that will look like.
However, she expects that she and every other salon will be very busy when they do reopen. “There’s going to be a huge demand once government says we can open.” She says, “We are not an essential service,” she says, then adds, “but once we’re open, it’s going to be an essential service.”
Some anxious clients have asked her what the stylist association is saying about opening, but she says, “We know as much as anyone else. We listen to Dr Bonnie Henry and we have to listen to what the law says.”
Meanwhile, as someone who likes to stay busy, Dick is making the most of the temporary closure. “I have been painting the inside of the salon. We might as well take advantage of the time.” She knows she is not the only one as she can hear renovation work going on upstairs from her salon.
And Dick is also enjoying spending time in her garden and going for regular hikes, but she worries about what is to come. “It’s still so up in the air. I am trying to take one day at a time.”
Marilyn McCrimmon is a native Victorian and freelance writer. She has written for Focus since its inception in 1988.