Elliot Reichstein, 7, wasn’t thrilled about his looming haircut as he stood inside SportClips on Monday in Hazel Dell.
His reluctance might be a result of his most recent cut, which Elliot described as “terrible.” The culprit: his mother.
“It’s all uneven. She did a butcher job,” Elliot’s father, Tim Reichstein, said, later adding that she would probably agree with the sentiment.
The Reichsteins are some of the waves of people who made their way to barbershops and hair salons since Friday, when Clark County was approved for Phase 2 of Washington’s COVID-19 reopening plan. Barbershops and hair salons, closed along with numerous other businesses on March 16, are allowed to open with distancing requirements.
Kristeen and Brian Millett own three SportClips locations in Clark County. As the stores reopened Saturday and Sunday, roughly 600 people rushed toward the scissors and razors.
“I feel extremely blessed with the reopening,” said Kristeen Millett, who is also a digital marketing manager for Sprout Digital, an internet marketing division of The Columbian Publishing Co. “We were all scrambling to have everything ready, and by the grace of God, we did.”
Brian Millett spent much of the shutdown time ordering items such as new chairs, air filtration systems and Plexiglas to separate massage areas in order to comply with state requirements. Small chairs are in front of the Hazel Dell location to serve as new waiting areas, and a doorbell is attached to the front door.
While the owners were making preparations, information about requirements, and loans to help implement them, changed repeatedly.
“It was much harder than we had expected because there were all of these unknowns,” Kristeen Millett said. “There were shifting sands.”
Customers are greeted by Nick Millett, the owners’ son, who is working as a COVID-19 supervisor. Before patrons enter the store, he holds in front of them a card that lists several symptoms of the virus, asking if they have been displaying any of them. He also ensures that they wear masks.
At one point Monday, as his mother started to enter the store, the duo realized that the room was at full capacity.
“Can I come in?” Kristeen Millett said.
“I’ll stay outside,” her son replied.
Inside, some salon chairs are left empty to ensure adequate space between customers. Masked stylists, who completed training on new protocols while the sites were closed, continue cutting off the top of masked customers.
Aislynn Candee, another COVID-19 supervisor, spends much of her time sanitizing materials in the back of the building. Tasks include laundry, vacuuming and washing salon capes, which now must be substituted after each individual use.
“I was called the back room goblin the other day,” Candee said.
Tim Reichstein, perhaps learning from his son’s example, decided not to have his hair cut during the shutdown. His most recent cut came in February.
“This is about as long as I’ve ever had it,” Tim Reichstein said before his cut Monday. “It’s really unruly right now.”
Tim Reichstein typically waits between four and five weeks between each haircut. He instead needed to wait about four months.
Eating at Tim Reichstein throughout the shutdown was the fact that he had planned to go to a barbershop around the time the closures were announced, but he missed the rapidly imposed deadline.
“I would’ve gotten my haircut on March 13,” he said. “I would’ve been in here.”