Scottsdale area salons and day spas are back in business following a relaxing of pandemic rules, but with now familiar distancing efforts, masks, and set appointments.
There was caution, joy, renewed friendships, a bit of relief from the social isolation . . . and hope.
“We made conscious effort to make it fun because there was enough going on with the masks and constant sanitizing,” said Julie Schumacher, owner of Rumors Salon at 7001 N. Scottsdale Road, a 4,000 square foot enterprise with 38 hair stations and four for nails. “We wanted them to be happy to be back and know how much we missed them.”
The demand was so intense, she said, that the salon has been open two hours longer, and she added Sunday, which normally is dark. Even with distancing spacing rules and appointments, it was the best month, the salon hit sales and retail records.
“The clients are happy, and they’re thrilled to be here, “ Schumacher said. “I can’t keep things on the shelf now.
A different customer mix, including California and New York
But it’s not only pent-up demand from the healthiest and most loyal customers. She said they’re also getting calls from women whose usual salon hasn’t opened yet or can’t accommodate them quickly, and – surprisingly – from out of state. Most of that is coming from New York, she said, where the pandemic has been more virulent, so they’re isolating with family in Scottsdale.
They other state is California, where many services and public places remain closed. Schumacher said three women from California all came in together. “They’re doing like a girls’ trip out here and getting all their services out here because they can’t do it at home.”
Schumacher said another business in the center that does botox told her that “they’re getting a lot of booking out of California.” She attributed that to continued business closings there.
“The state’s not reopening. Theres not much to do there.”
Older clients appear unafraid
Another surprise has been the willingness, even eagerness, of older women, a higher risk group, to come in for services. “A lot of the older clients are not having this (forced shut-down),” she said. “You’re not going to tell them what to do.”
And distancing rules mean no physical contact among people who have become good friends and spilled their inner secrets.
“It’s a very high-touch industry,” Schumacher said. “You can’t hug them. It’s been hard.”
Not everyone is as bold as the seniors. One woman wanted color but didn’t want to come in the building, so they applied the color on the parking lot and the client went home to wash it out. Others have called and said they’re not comfortable coming in just yet but wanted to book an appointment for June.
Thankful for the friendly reunion
Mendy Hoffman of Velocity stylebar near Arcadia also felt a reunion warmth seeing clients again.
“It was great, for us to be able to see people and have that interaction again,” said Hoffman. The salon offered appointment-only services with reduced staff, heightened sanitation, and masks. Her’s is a blow-out salon with a half-dozen stations.
But the connection was affected by the enhanced cleaning, the spaced seating, and the presence of masks.
“The only thing that was strange was having the mask on. It was awkward, and not as personal” in a very personal business.
“It just felt really weird, not being able to see their facial expressions,” she said. But when she lamented not being able to trade smiles, she said, one customer told her, “No, I can see it in your eyes.”
Given the circumstances, the mood was warm and friendly, but talk of the pandemic was both light and dire.
“We laughed,” Hoffman said. We made some jokes about it but also know the seriouslness of it.”
But also, she said, “Instead of gossipy salon talk, the conversations were more real.”
One client had recovered from the virus
One of Hoffman’s clients had contracted and recovered from the virus who told them she had fever, body aches, and felt exhausted. She “holed herself up in her bedroom” and no one else in the house got sick during her quarantine.
Her attitude was, according to Hoffman: “I’m over it. I’m just over it. I need to see people.”
But Hoffman believes the sanitation improvements are likely to – and ought to – remain, at least until the virus fades from being such a central concern of life. She’s seeing how it goes.
“My concern is the saftey and health of everyone,” she said. “I’m not bringing in more people if it’s not subsiding.
“If it gets better and better, I would love to continue business as normal."
By Hal DeKeyser
7001 N. Scottsdale Rd.
Scottsdale, AZ 85253
4290 E. Indian School Road No.119
Phoenix, AZ 85018