BELGRADE — Among the businesses that have slowly started reopening this week are barbershops and salons.
But the questions remain: with social distancing now important, how did the time off impact them and what now?
Barbershops and salons, like Max’s Old Town Barber Shop in Belgrade got the green light to start taking customers again and within the first few hours of opening, the phone was off the hook.
“I’m the type of guy that just can’t sit still so it’s perfect for me,” says Max Norton, owner of Max’s. “And then all of a sudden, it just stopped.”
For Norton the last 40 years didn’t quite prepare him or his fellow barber, Robin, for when the barber’s pole outside his shop no longer spun.
“Before, you know, it was great,” Norton says. “We always had lots of great conversations in here. Then just my whole life coming to a stop like that, it was bad.”
It was a halt in operation that Norton says was felt in barber shops in and far beyond the valley.
“I think it was tough on the whole hair industry,” Norton says while cutting one man’s hair Tuesday morning.
“Everybody’s gotta look good,” Robin says.
“Everybody’s gotta look good, man,” Norton says. “If you don’t look good, you don’t feel good.”
And since reopening Monday it's been phone call after phone call, appointment after appointment.
“Robin and I are normally closed on Mondays but our phone was just off the hook yesterday,” Norton says.
The sanitizer is never far away and, between each appointment, chairs are swabbed.
“I’m so excited to come back to work, I thought man, I’m just going to stay open seven days a week now,” Norton says, jokingly. “I probably won’t.”
Norton says while it is how Robin and he earn their living, there’s more to it than that.
It’s the conversations that are almost more welcoming than the “Open” sign.
“To be able to do this makes me happy,” Norton says. “It’s not about the money.”
“It’s what we do,” Robin says.
“It’s what we do,” Norton agrees.