By Bob Bong
Cathy O’Hara can’t wait for Friday to arrive.
That’s when she will be able to reopen her hair salon—Hair by O’Hara and Friends—at 7008 W. 127th St. in Palos Heights.
“I feel like we were off long enough,” she said Monday, nine weeks after Gov. JB Pritzker ordered businesses like hers to close in the battle to fight off the coronavirus. “We want everyone to be safe, so we’re going to take the proper precautions.”
“Of course,” she said. “My salon was closed but I was there almost every day working to get all the necessary PPE.”
Hair salons, like hers, are among the businesses being allowed to reopen Friday as part of Restore Illinois Phase 3.
“Everything is in place,” she said. “My distributor has been good about getting us prepared. “We are trying to make it as sterile as possible.”
Toward that goal, hand sanitizer will be readily available. Stylists will wear masks and shampoo assistants will wear face visors. There are sneeze guards at the front desk and manicure table.
“We have 100 masks already and another 150 on order,” she said.
“Customers will come in the front door and exit through the back door,” she said. “Customers will get their temperature taken; they will fill out a questionnaire.”
While O’Hara said she will offer almost all of her services, business will hardly be the same as usual.
“We are limiting visits to one hour,” she said. “We will do hair cuts and color touchups to start. No complicated color services for now.”
“There will be five stylists here on Friday,” she said. “That’s half of the regular staff. One person at a time per stylist. One at every other station.”
She said an old practice of people waiting inside the salon will be prohibited for a while.
“Husbands can’t come in with their wives and get their hair cut while their wife is undergoing treatment,” she said.
One safety concern O’Hara is leaving up to her stylists and their clients.
“There is some concern over blow drying,” she said. “I will blow dry, but I’m leaving it to the stylists to decide for themselves and their client.”
O’Hara said she’s lucky she was able to obtain a Paycheck Protection Plan loan early on.
“That allowed me to pay the rent and utilities,” she said.
In the meantime, she said the salon sold hair products curbside and clients purchased gift cards to help bring in revenue.
“We also connected with a T-shirt print shop called the Plug in Mt. Greenwood where he sold O’Hara T-shirts and hoodies and gave us half the profits. We stayed engaged with our clients and team members to give everyone hope.”
Now she’s looking for a big comeback.
“I’ve been calling clients to let them know we’ll be open. I still have a hundred more to call. So far, we’re booked up through mid-June.”
The salon will also be open seven days a week starting Friday, to help clients catch up.
For appointments or reservations, call 708-239-1111.