A local hair salon owner is seeing a surge in signatures in her online petition requesting that Idaho hair salons be listed as essential by the state’s stay-at-home order.
The petition has garnered more than 6,500 signatures on moveon.org since it was launched Wednesday by Connie Hobson, owner of Seacret Professional Salon and Day Spa in Pocatello.
Hobson wrote in the petition that she wants Idaho hair salons to be listed as an essential businesses and be able to open by Wednesday, saying hair styling is “little to no risk” if the proper precautions are taken during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The precautions listed are requiring stylists to wear face masks and gloves, disallowing clients from waiting in the building for their upcoming haircut and other measures recommended by government and health officials.
This petition is titled, “Idaho Hair Salon’s One At A Time Opening.” It comes after Gov. Brad Little extended the stay-at-home order last Wednesday through April 30.
The Idaho governor’s office says there’s no guarantee that hair salons will be able to immediately open when the order ends and additional details on the re-opening of the economy will be announced this week.
Hobson said she will present the petition to the governor’s office Wednesday, the same day that she asked hair salons to be reopened.
She does not anticipate hair salons will be cleared to open before May but at least hopes they are one of the first to be granted clearance to open when the shelter-in-place ends.
“It was about the only thing I could do, so (I) just thought it was worth a shot,” Hobson said. “I just want to make sure that we are front and center when he’s making his decision. So I think that was probably the biggest motivating factor of it.”
Hobson said she has not received small-business bail-out money because she doesn’t have employees. She has four hair stylists who rent out space.
She opened her business two years ago with co-owner Margie Rasmussen, a licensed hair stylist.
“In the beauty industry, all of us figure that it’s pretty much bullet-proof because no matter what happens, people always need to have their hair done. Women always want to have their nails done; they always want to have their lashes done,” said Hobson, who isn’t licensed in hair styling and instead runs the operations. “Never in my life would I have thought that this was going to happen.”
Pocatello hair salon owner Stacie Campbell shares Hobson’s thoughts and signed her petition.
Campbell’s salon – Cuts and Color by Stacie – has no renters, so she is the only one who stylizes hair there. She opened the place in October 2019 after previously owning Hair Hub in Pocatello for five years.
Campbell said it is part of the nature of the hair-styling business to apply strict sanitation methods, concluding that makes for a safe environment under the circumstances.
“We actually have the highest standards of disinfection that there are in the state. We can’t even open and get a license unless we pass a test on disinfection and sanitation,” Campbell said. “I guarantee my salon is cleaner than when you walk into Walmart right now. That’s how we feel right now. We need to be heard.”
Becky Sherwood, owner of Pocatello hair salon hair.comb, sees things differently.
Sherwood said she did not sign the petition and sees her business as non-essential.
She added it will be the right time to open when the Idaho governor says it is. Her three renters feel the same way, she said.
“Every effort needs to be made to stop the spread,” Sherwood said. “In spite of the fact that that means being non-essential and puts me out of work and all of the financial implications, I still think it’s more appropriate to keep us non-essential. I know that’s not a very popular opinion.”
Sherwood acknowledged the impact it has on her cohorts in the industry.
“There’s so many of my fellow stylists who can’t work and don’t have means of support. Yeah, I think about them,” Sherwood said. “I would like to get back to my normal routine, but I still think it’s for the greater good that we do a slow back-to-normal as a society.”