Barber shops, salons open again in Beaufort

in Coronavirus/News by

By Mike McCombs and Bob Sofaly

John Harvey was getting his own hair cut Monday at the end of his first day back at work at Harvey’s Barber Shop on Bay Street.

For seven weeks, the shop was dormant as close-contact services, such as barber shops and salons had been closed by order of South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster as the state tried to slow the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

“I had customers mail me money,” Harvey said. “They said this is for the haircut I missed.

“Then they mailed me another check another two weeks later. This time they wrote, ‘This is for the haircut my wife wouldn’t let me get because she likes my hair longer.”

John and his brother, Ray, were busy Monday but happy to be back at work.

“It’s good to be back, good to see faces, good to see people, good to talk to people,” John Harvey said. “It’s good to get back into a routine.”

At other businesses around town, things were similar.

Beaufort Day Spa co-owners Jennifer Poole and Christina Byrne were busy Monday booking clients and making sure everything was in order for re-opening.

Byrne said they qualified for the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loan which kept them afloat. Poole added that the property owner where their spa is housed on North Street was very forgiving regarding the monthly rent.

“He was very lenient,” she said.

“He didn’t change the locks on us or anything,” Byrne joked. “We got the PPP loan, which in itself was a long haul.”

At the crowded J&J Barber Shop in Port Royal, chairs were positioned outside for the longer-than-normal wait.

On Bay Street, John Harvey joked it was good to get back because he was “about to run out of projects at the house.”

“The phone started ringing at 7 when I walked in the door,” Harvey said, “and it did not stop ringing until after 5 p.m., and we have two lines and we have messages on the phone.”

John Harvey said he was hopeful many other businesses would be able to re-open as well, though he admitted he was fortunate. Harvey’s owns its building. And it, too, qualified for the PPP loan from the federal government, making it possible to pay its employees.

“I know not everybody will be so fortunate,” he said.

While the shop was shutdown, John Harvey admitted he took care of some house calls. He also lost a customer, one of the first deaths in Beaufort County from the coronavirus.

Harvey’s has been open in Beaufort since 1936. This is the longest the shop has ever been closed, and aside from yearly breaks for the Water Festival, the next longest stint with the doors shut was two weeks for Hurricane Gracie in 1959.

“My stamina is probably been down a little bit,” John Harvey said. “We have been out of work for seven weeks.

“You got to ease into it again.”

Top: The Beaufort Day Spa was back and open for business on Monday, May 18 after being closed for two months because of the coronavirus. Co-owner Jennifer Poole gives fellow co-owner Christina Byrne a facial to see how latex-free gloves were going to work before working with clients. Both said they couldn’t feel any appreciable difference. Photo by Bob Sofaly.

Right: Men wait outside for their turn to get a long awaited haircut at J&J Barber Shop on Monday in Port Royal. With the waiting area inside the shop not holding as many customers due to social distancing, chairs were positioned outside for the longer-than-normal wait. Photo by Bob Sofaly.