NEVER were hairdressers and barbers more missed and appreciated than in these weeks of lock-down. Many are so overwhelmed that they are on the verge of tearing their hair out! And don’t mention the remarkable changing of colours that have accompanied these challenging times.
It could be a few weeks before they get the ‘all clear’ in this country but the profession is already gearing up for what will be a major new challenge and massive demand in the first few weeks after lock-down.
Jimmy and Ann Dolan operate a busy hair salon at Mount Street, Claremorris. Jimmy came to Claremorris in 1982 from his home in Abbeyknockmoy, Co Galway. One of a family of eight, six of them are involved in the hairdressing business with other outlets in Westport (Padraic), Tuam (Della and Val), Galway (Paul) and Loughrea (Tommy).
“We are inundated with calls all the time but we just have to tell people there is no way we can attend to anyone until the go-ahead is given. I had to switch my phone off for long periods as I was handling so many calls from people.
“We are waiting on guidelines from the Government in relation to procedures to put in place. I think there will be a lot of businesses letting staff go because they will be only able to have two or three in their salon at the same time. Apart from the regular gents haircuts, we do ladies perms and colouring and that takes quite some time.
“The bigger salons have scope to fit in more people than most of us smaller operations so they should be able to manage a bit better. We are awaiting directions in relation to stuff to wear and all that will have to be in place before we open the doors.
“Having said that we will be ready to go when we get the go ahead. It will be a controlled format for sometime at least. Like other similar outlets, we expect to have a major rush of appointments as we all work our way through the biggest backlog any of us will have ever encountered during our time in this business,” says Jimmy.
Over in Ballyhaunis, Valerie Curley from Valerie’s Hail Salon is raring to go and just waiting for the green light to open the doors again. “It looks like it could be July but at least we have something to really look forward to at this stage.
“I have been blessed with the most loyal of customers down through the years. There’s not a day goes by that people don’t stop me and say … ‘put me down for the first appointment!’. They all remind me in a nice way of politicians asking for the No 1 vote …!”
“I suppose we all took our work and profession so much for granted down the years. It was just what we did. But this lockdown brought about by the coronavirus is I believe giving a whole new platform and appreciation to our profession.
“I have got a huge amount of texts, messages and phone calls over the last few weeks from so many people and they are all saying how much they are looking forward to coming into the salon again and meeting myself and Sinéad Higgins again. I am sure all the other hairdressers are receiving similar messages of goodwill all over the country as well.
“We will have to kit out the salon according to the guidelines when we get them. I expect we will have an avalanche of bookings and that we will be working late into the night as we cope with the backlog. We can hardly wait to meet so many of our friends again and share stories and memories and enjoy the banter and the craic as we return to some form of relative normality,” says Valerie.
Salons and barbershops are re-opening in several US states this week including Arkansas, Oklahoma, Georgia and Tennessee. Germany is also opening their salons this week as are a number of other European countries.
The projected opening date here in Ireland is July 20 but some expect that this will be brought forward in the aftermath of so many other countries lifting restrictions on this business. It can’t come a day too soon for many who are feeling rather woolly at this stage!