Customers waited at the door for some shops to open
Dennis Franklin had hung up his scissors last year after more than five decades barbering but agreed to help out son Denis at their Oglesby barbershop, figuring it was apt to be busy.
There were 16 people waiting at the door when they opened.
Friday marked the first day of loosening pandemic restrictions and the first day barbershops and hair salons could reopen, albeit under tight restrictions, such as masks. Long lines were spotted outside numerous salons before 9 a.m. and where there were no lines it was because operators had collected names and phone numbers to summon customers when a chair opened.
Dennis Franklin followed suit, collecting numbers from patient customers — “They were all so great” — to where he was booked for the day 15 minutes after opening. And if the volume of customers was head-spinning, so too were the first-in-his-time requirements, such as keeping his face covered.
“Never in my life have I had to wear a mask,” Dennis Franklin remarked, adding cheekily, “except when I robbed a bank.”
Franklin wasn’t the only one in good humor. Most of those customers interviewed were delighted to be able to get haircuts and remarked at the fortuitous turn in the weather. After days of humid air and intermittent storms, Mother Nature delivered a pitch-perfect mix of sunny skies and soft breezes for people queuing up to salon doors.
And while one man stormed off profanely from the round-the-corner line at Great Clips in Peru, most in line were accommodating to Great Clips employees who politely quizzed them if they were feeling well or posed a risk to the stylists and other customers.
“They’ve got a good system, I give them credit,” observed Scott Pellican of La Salle, who showed up masked for his first haircut since March. “I counted a dozen people in line at 9 a.m. I asked if this was the marijuana line or the haircut line.”
Marijuana might no longer be a black market commodity but haircuts were. Anybody caught styling hair during hunker-down orders risked losing his or her license, forcing customers to either try at-home styling (like mom used to force on us) or grow long locks and sideburns that would make Elvis blush.
Dan Cornwall, of La Salle, made a beeline for Marty’s Barber Shop in La Salle after the longest furlough he could recall in 25 years going to Marty’s.
“It’s been 12 weeks,” a newly-shorn Cornwall said as he exited around 9 a.m., at which point eight others were waiting for a spot in the chair. “It took less than 10 minutes.”
Marcia Stefenel owns Marty’s and she confirmed reports she buzzed through six customers in the first 20 minutes she was opened. There still was time for pleasant chitchat, but her customers intuitively understood she couldn’t linger over them.
“It’s great to be back,” Stefenel said.
Dennis Franklin also was glad to open the doors again, but was quick to note he had to exercise an unprecedented degree of caution. Springfield imposed a series of infection controls and Franklin, forced to take names and numbers, was left to guess how much time to allot for trims and the exacting process of wiping everything down between cuts.
“I spaced it out a little bigger than I needed,” Franklin said during an unintended lull around 10 a.m. But with customers still phoning and walking in, the break came in handy.
Cinderella Beauty Salon in Streator is open by appointment only but even those who call ahead may find themselves on a waiting list.
“I’m so excited to be back,” McCollum said. “I finally get to see all of my customers.”
Jane Hart is one such customer who was back to get her hair cut on the first day McCollum was allowed to reopen.
“I’m just happy to be able to get my haircut again,” Hart said. “I’m really excited to see Ronda again.”
Ambrosis in Ottawa is taking the slower approach to opening their doors.
Owner Amy Billings said they already had prepared precautions in place before the opened by they were planning on waiting until Monday, June 1.
“We thought we’d get some clients in today so we can get back into the swing of things,” Billings said Friday. “We always sanitize but we’re taking more precautions now.”
Billings said they’re keeping stylists six feet apart by having one at every other station, and they’re now working in part-time shifts to allow everybody to get hours in.
Billings is hopeful Illinois can continue its downward trend in cases to continue on towards phase four.
“We’re very happy to see our regulars back,” Billings said. “They’re like family to us. It’s fun to see them again and catch up. We probably could have opened at midnight last night.”