As grey hairs poke their heads up like seedlings capturing the season’s first warm light, and split ends make their presence known, many are wondering when they can return to their beloved hair salons.

Last week, Gov. Phil Scott announced that salons could resume their practice beginning on May 29.

At Edo, The Fine Art of Hair, in Shelburne, the effects of COVID-19 were sudden and swift. Preparations for reopening have been more measured.

“In the beginning it was really startling,” said Candace Carson-Hoffmann, salon owner and stylist. “Closing, there was so much anxiety not really knowing A) if we had closed in time, that we hadn’t caused any problems or B) would we be able to sustain by being closed.”

Carson-Hoffmann was forced to lay off her three employees, but later received a loan through the Paycheck Protection Program, which allowed her to rehire them. The crew has been working from home, preparing for reopening.

For Carson-Hoffmann, it’s been a busy time of paperwork and awaiting next steps. Her work hours were spent making clients feel alright about the changes, sometimes even delivering shampoo to their homes.

But now, she and her staff are preparing for their return to the salon.

Carson-Hoffmann has been busy cleaning, procuring hand sanitizer and other personal protective equipment for her workers. Magazines have been removed from the salon and guests will now be asked to wait in their car. A text message will be sent to them when it’s time for them to come in. Clients will have their temperature checked at the door, and at the washing station, only one person will have their hair shampooed at a time. The salon has ordered single-use gowns for clients to wear during their haircuts and intends to keep the business to no more than six people inside at a time. Workers will also take time to clean between appointments.

Employees’ temperatures will also be taken and tracked in a log, Carson-Hoffman said. The salon’s air ducts will also be cleaned before reopening.

It was unclear whether the salon can offer its normal waxing services, and whether blow drying will be allowed, Carson-Hoffmann said last week.

“We’re working really hard to offer as safe an environment as we can, knowing that no one really knows for sure,” she added.

Edo has started scheduling haircuts for June.

“I sent out a mass text, it is the closest thing to viral I have ever experienced being,” Carson-Hoffmann said of opening appointments. “Between the phone calls and the texts from clients ... at first it was like, ‘Yay’ and then it was like ‘Oh no I am not prepared to do this alone.’”

But, she said, she’s very happy to see clients are eager to return.

“We are doing everything we can to ensure a good experience,” Carson-Hoffmann said. “We’re going to do our very best to maintain our schedule the best we can, but [ask people] just to be a little patient because we’re all learning at the same time.”

Country Store reopens

“It’s been a strange existence,” said Steve Mayfield, the “Pop” of the mom and pop Shelburne Country Store and the Country Christmas Loft.

After two months of locked doors, Mayfield was finally able to reopen the Country Store on Monday, May 18.

The return to business has been gradual. While the Country Christmas Loft was completely shuttered, the Country Store operated on a curbside model for the past two months. About two weeks ago, the store began offering creemees again, serving patrons their icy confections on a long pizza pallet to maintain social distancing.

As of Wednesday, May 20, the store had begun to see foot traffic again.

Directional arrows guide patrons through the store, and penny candy has been pre-bagged as opposed to the former self-serve model. Staff are wearing masks and sanitizing surfaces multiple times per day.

“There’s a lot of extra work, I’m so sick of the smell of Pinesol,” Mayfield quipped. “But it’s necessary to get where we are going. Everything everybody here in Vermont has done has made us, right now, one of the safest states.”

As for shopping trends, Mayfield said he’s seen an uptick in sales of traditional candies.

“It’s a comfort thing, people are kind of going back to the older foods that just make them feel good,” he said. “I’m not selling quite as many jams and jellies but boy am I selling a lot more fudge and chocolate.”

Licorice and creemees have also been popular.

Although the Country Store is not requiring patrons to wear masks Mayfield said that about 80% of customers wear them. Of those who don’t, most said they had forgotten them at home, he added.

For now, the Country Store will keep curbside pickup alongside traditional shopping. While Mayfield said it’s unclear yet what late summer and fall tourism will look like in Shelburne, he’s grateful for the community’s support.

“We’ve got a great local bunch here,” he said. “Our people that live in these local towns are spectacular and take care of their own.”

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