HOLTVILLE — When the governor gave the go-ahead to open barber shops in an outdoor-only capacity several weeks ago, Holtville barber shops opted out, especially because temperatures were well above 105 degrees.
But late last month, barber shops were among some of the last businesses to be able to open their doors and let in customers. Of course, that included many restrictions, such as social distancing and temperature checks, and other demands required to re-open.
Holtville businesses gladly obliged in order to start doing business again. Here are a few of their stories.
Park View Barber Shop
As you come into Park View Barber Shop, 528 Holt Ave., you are welcomed and asked how they can help you.
After checking that certain restrictions are met, they will either ask you to take a seat inside or outside to meet the distancing requirement. They also might ask if you can come back in 20 to 30 minutes depending on the distancing requirement.
Barber Claudia Gutierrez has a container labelled “new capes and aprons” on top of her styling station.
“I change the disposable cape and apron each time I get another customer,” Gutierrez said.
Park View hours of operation are weekdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Gutierrez works another job in the morning and works at the barbershop in the afternoon.
“I don’t know what I would have done without that income,” she said.
Within a 30- to 45-minute span, Gutierrez attended two customers.
“The business is slow, and I tend to believe that people are still afraid of the virus,” she noted.
Roberto Barraza, one of Gutierrez’s first customers three years ago, was at the shop getting a trim recently.
“Today, I am getting a skin fade with Claudia, my main barber,” Barraza said. “I was cutting my own hair at home when they were not open. The difference is that it is a cleaner cut and easier to maintain. … I can call her at any time. If she is busy at home, she will be here for me.”
Another Park View customer, Jose Niebla, was headed to Ace Hardware when he saw the “barber” sign and decided to check it out.
“My barber from Calexico got another job and doesn’t have time to cut my hair anymore,” Niebla said.
Gutierrez said Park View takes both walk-ins and appointments, and is maintaining strict standards of cleanliness and sanitation required by the county Public Health Department.
“People are very happy and say it is a good thing we are cleaning (between customers),” she said. “We are doing our part to keep the barber shop open, especially after being closed for six months.”
Holtville Cuts & Fades Barber Shop
Just a block away from Park View is Holtville Cuts & Fades Barber Shop, located at 136 W. 5th St.
Owner Diana Garcia, a Holtville resident all her life, has had the barber shop business since 2010, and has been at this location for six years.
There is a connection between the barber and the client, she said. Cuts and Fades reopened Aug. 31, and that connection was clearly seen.
“Some of our clients did not even shave or cut their hair; they were waiting for us to reopen. Just to talk to them and see our clients was icing on the cake,” Garcia said.
An American flag is out when the shop is open for business.
“When the ‘open’ sign is on, they are welcome to come in as a walk-in, always taking into consideration the COVID restrictions,” Garcia said. “We allow enough time between appointments to clean and sanitize properly.
“I am very strict,” she said. “have caution tape at entrance, and they cannot come in until they are checked (mask, temperature check, etc.).
“We deal with people who do not believe it is a problem anymore and don’t want to wear a mask,” Garcia explained. “They are not allowed inside without their mask. We have to be really strict and I tell my barbers not to let their guard down.”
Breaking Point of a Small Business
Before COVID, with three people cutting hair, Garcia noted that they would have 18 to 25 people a day per person. Now, the average is about nine customers each.
“This is OK to minimize the risks … it is a hard financially,” said Garcia. “But we are still living through a pandemic, and it is better to be safe than sorry.”
Financially, it has been a struggle for many smaller businesses who may not have qualified or chosen to go for a loan.
“August was my breaking point,” Garcia said. “I did look into a loan, but I didn’t meet the minimum. And if I qualified, I would have had to pay it back.
“Thank God we were able to come back to work, and now we can keep the shop,” she said.
Cuts & Fades is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. However, hours may vary by appointment.