There is no doubt that everyone has heard about the pandemic sweeping across the world, but as Kentuckians it is important that we recognize the struggles of our state, as well our community.

On Wednesday, March 18, salons and tattoo parlors were forced to close at 5 p.m. that day and remain closed until further notice. Many people were unaffected by this, but it was a devastating hit for stylists and artists in Kentucky.

Carrie Lefevers, owner of Carrie’s at the Plaza in Barbourville, said, “My initial thoughts about the virus was my initial thought about everything. I don’t hit the panic button in life about anything until it’s my last resort.”

Lefevers tried to stay calm and not panic as many people did when they first heard about the situation.

When asked if she had imagined that it would affect her business, she said, “Well in my mind common sense would tell a logical person that if calls for this type of extreme action, everything that isn’t crucial to daily life would have closed all at once… which it absolutely did not. When I was forced to shut my doors yesterday, my neighbors in the shopping center were in full operation and there were people everywhere.”

Lefevers expressed her frustration on how things were being handled regarding closing, “We weren’t even offered a soft shut down, just a deadline… We would have followed sanitation guidelines, social distancing for our customers and even allowed one person in the salon at a time. None of this was negotiable.”

Many of the small business owners were speaking to officials in Frankfort because of confusion as to what they could do, and finally found out they absolutely had to close.

Kristy Dean Cole, owner of Sheer Vixen salon in Barbourville, said, “When I first heard about the virus, I didn’t really take it seriously or expect it to affect my business… If congestion of crowds or people is an issue, why not let the owner/client make that choice? Are two people getting hair color in a room any worse than a hundred people crammed in my local grocery store racing to get the last roll of toilet paper any better?”

It seems to be a universal feeling for many people that the shut down was not fair for the business owners, stylists, or artists.

Cole went on to explain the financial crisis that this may cause. “Most in my profession rent their building or booth on a month to month basis. If we aren’t working, we certainly can’t pay the landlord or the utilities, much less other bills and necessities… Most of us can handle a couple weeks, even a month, but what if it goes on for months or next year is what keeps me up at night. It’s a scary time to own your own business in Kentucky!”

Both business owners explained that a good way to support your local businesses during this time is to buy gift certificates if they are being offered and thanked their clients for being so great and understanding during these times.

Tamara Henson, owner of Tamara’s Tattoos & Body Piercing, said, “When I first heard about the seriousness of the virus and the measures the government was talking, I was concerned. However, I wasn’t personally affected until businesses were shut down, including tattoo studios.”

When it did reach the point that her business was affected, she said “I was frustrated that I wouldn’t be able to serve my clients and concerned about finances. I run a tight ship, and keep the place spotless and thoroughly disinfected daily, regardless of the social health situation.”

Henson believes that it was the smart thing to close, though it is a very difficult pill to swallow. She also draws and paints,  and went on to say, “The community can help by supporting our alternate financial endeavors, if they exist, during these trying times.”

If you have a small business that was affected by closures ordered during the COVID-19 pandemic, let us know by emailing editor@mountainadvocate.com.

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