Edmonton hair salons, barber shops field last-minute requests with new restrictions looming

·3 min read

The phone has been ringing off the hook at many hair salons and barber shops in Edmonton as people try to get in for a last-minute cut before the Alberta government announces new pandemic restrictions.

Maria Bretz, proprietor and barber at the Grizly Barber on Whyte Avenue, said some clients want to get in before the government forces them to close, if indeed that is to happen.

"We're getting an influx of a bunch of people booking very last-minute," Bretz told CBC News Monday. "Lots of last-minute cancellations due to having to be in isolation as well."

Bretz said in the spring when the shutdowns were somewhat unexpected, many people were left in need of a haircut or beard trim.

"This time, they kind of want to get ahead of the curve on that and be able to get a haircut ahead of time," Bretz said.

Last week, Bretz stopped doing beard trims and hot shaves — services that require clients to remove their masks.

Mona Grewal, owner and operator of Avenue Salons in downtown Edmonton, Sherwood Park and on Whyte Avenue, said more people are calling to change their appointments to an earlier date.

"It has been busier but on the other hand, too, we are getting a lot of cancellations and a lot of no shows at this time as well."

Grewal said some people may need to isolate or get tested after being exposed to someone with COVID-19.

"So we are seeing full books, but within the full books we are also seeing no shows and cancellations."

Thyda Lim, owner and stylist at Suburbia Hair Spa in St. Albert, said while two weeks ago people started cancelling, she's noticed the shift to last-minute bookings.

"Today we definitely have a lot more pressure," Lim said in an interview Monday.

"Everybody's just extra appreciative, extra happy to be in," Lim said. "They're relieved almost."

Lim noted that many people are trying to make an appointment for this week, but may not get in.

"I don't know how many more people I can see," Lim said. "I mean my days are booked."

Support lockdown

Many are concerned about the impact that closures would mean for local businesses but Bretz said she supports a circuit breaker shutdown of non-essential businesses.

"If that is to help us get out of this mess and take care of our healthcare system, absolutely."

Lim agreed and said no matter what, it's going to hurt.

"I personally think if you're going to do it, just do it for a short period of time and get it over with for two weeks," she suggested. "Instead of dragging it on for a month or doing a little bit of this and a little bit of that."

Grewal said her salons have taken strict sanitization and distancing precautions and is worried how a full lockdown would impact her salons and local business.

However, she's pleased some patrons are doing Christmas shopping early — including buying packages and gift certificates.

"A lot of people are supporting local businesses and purchasing gift cards."