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Economy

Impact of COVID-19 on QC Small Business

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For small businesses, 2020 has been anything but business as usual. And for those of us in the business of beauty, we learned just how essential our “non-essential” businesses really are! The fact that there was nowhere to go and nothing to do during the more than 2-month-long nationwide shutdown didn’t stop our clients from wanting their hair and nails done. Too many queens just couldn’t bear the thought of an unkept crown. After weeks of pleading for an appointment, one of my clients texted a crying face emoji with a message stating her scalp had stopped breathing!

Anxious for a fresh cut, my friend Teresa was one of the first clients to sit in her stylist’s chair on the first day salons and barbershops reopened in Rock Island. Others just couldn’t wait and had no choice but to get creative with at-home hairdos, becoming kitchen beauticians.                                                                                   

And the sentiment wasn’t much different for a lot of men, who discovered that a professional bi-weekly haircut IS truly essential.  Some were forced to put those “never-used” personal clippers to use, even while knowing they wouldn’t be thrilled with the end results.

I think all this qualifies as proof that even in a pandemic, looking good is serious business!   

Just as city leaders began to re-open the Quad-Cities following with the devastating financial setback caused by the COVID 19 shut-down, many small business owners were forced to close their doors again amid rioting and looting brought on by vandals during local protests from the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.

And some not-so-small businesses suffered damage too when vandals broke out storefront windows at North Park Mall in Davenport.  Now, officially in a recession, economic change can’t come fast enough. While millions of Americans lost their jobs during the Corona Virus pandemic outbreak and several industries suffered catastrophic losses, African-Americans and minority-owned businesses across the country have experienced loss at disproportionate levels.

The beauty industry was hit especially hard.  Considered to be non-essential businesses that require close person-to-person contact, halting business as usual was a must to help control the Covid19 spread.  And even now that shelter-at- home orders have been lifted and businesses have re-opened, beauty professionals can only operate their salons, spas and barbershops with certain restrictions that limit the number of people they can serve.

Anxious to get back to work in her Davenport spa, Tianna Manley, owner of T’s Spa and Beauty, says it saddened her to have to close the business and she never anticipated a two-month long delay in reopening.

“I can’t give the people of my community the beauty that they need to help themselves and to boost their confidence. And it just made me feel like overall very bad to not be able to work, because I absolutely love working. And throughout the months we were closed, I really got depressed and I had anxiety again and just trying to cope and work through that was very stressful.”

During the shutdown Manley expanded her business and managed to keep clients engaged through social media and by offering discounted gift cards. She received extra support from unemployment and a considerate landlord who gave her a break on the rent for the months the spa was closed.

T’s Spa had re-opened from the shutdown, but chose to close again until the protests simmer down.   

Longtime Barber, Butch Gay recently re-opened his East Moline barbershop, Butch's Barber Shop, as the Shelter-at-home ordinance was lifted.   Gay, 68, has been barbering for 43 years and was determined to not let the Corona Virus pandemic end it. He continued servicing clients until he was personally asked to close his shop, and then even made house calls to loyal clients to stay afloat. He says he relied on his VA, social security and retirement benefits during the shutdown. “I just thank God I had other income”, he added. 

And fortunately, like Manley, he too credits the generosity of a good landlord for the survival of his business.

Despite the unprecedented economic downturn that has certainly doomed the foreseeable future of many businesses both small and large, Manley is determined her spa will survive, stating we’re not giving up, no matter what!

“We love what we do and we have a mission to our Quad-City people, women, to be able to give them a reasonably priced service so they can be pampered.”