Hair salons and gyms among businesses able to reopen
When Governor Laura Kelly rolled out her plan for lifting the stay-at-home order and reopening businesses in Kansas - including Cloud County - there were four specific phases.
On Tuesday, May 19, the Governor announced that the state will move into a "modified Phase 2" beginning Friday, May 22.
Salons (hair, nails and tanning), barbershops, and tattoo parlors are allowed to reopen by appointment only. Gyms and fitness centers could also reopen, but group sessions or classes have to be limited to 15 people.
Fusions, on Main Street, is one of the salons in town thankful to be back to business. "We're just really glad to be able to open our doors," said Jenna Blochlinger, the owner of Fusions. "It was a struggle. We didn't have any income for awhile."
Salons and fitness centers were shut down for almost two full months, creating a financial strain on their business during what is normally a peak period.
Fusions qualified for some stimulus money earmarked to help small businesses weather the pandemic crisis. "It definitely helped out," Blochlinger said. "We had to get creative to make money."
During the virus closure, Fusions offered pamper baskets to their clients, which contained do-it-yourself pampering products for the home: face masks, nail polish, loofah bars, scented candles, and other beauty products. "Even with the virus, people still like to be pampered," Blochlinger said. "I got quite a few calls for tips on how to do things at home like color and touch-up roots."
Mary Beth Smith is one Fusion client who's glad to be back in the salon chair. "My husband said that since I was getting a little silver, we matched," she said with a laugh. "But I'm very thankful for the girls here. I hope people realize how hard they work."
Governor Kelly's Ad Astra reopening plan does not require salon workers or customers to wear masks, although masks are recommended whenever someone goes out in public. Blochlinger said that all her staff has masks to wear if a customer requests it.
The biggest challenge for Fusions right now is trying to schedule all their clients. "Unfortunately, everyone wants in at the same time," Blochlinger said. "So I really want to thank our clients for their understanding and patience as we work to get everyone scheduled."
Fitness centers were also allowed to reopen, with several restrictions still in place. Amanda Choitz, the owner of Dumbbells Fitness Center and Tanning Salon, is happy to open her doors again. "It was actually kind of emotional for me to have to lock the doors seven weeks ago," she said.
Like most every other business forced to close during the stay-at-home order, Dumbbells felt the financial pinch. "Mid-March to mid-May are our two busiest months of the year."
Choitz reports that about 80% of her clients have returned so far, and is looking forward to new members coming into the facility. While closed, Choitz and her husband, Ethan, gave the gym a facelift, sprucing up all three floors of the facility.
Per the Phase 2 guidelines, the gym will limit each floor to no more than 15 members, and each member must sign in and out. Normally a 24/7 facility for members, Choitz is limiting its operating hours from 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. for the time being.
"It's exciting to be open again," she said. "I'm very happy to see people back and welcome them in."
Sherry Trost is one of the Dumbbells regulars relieved to have access to the gym. "I'm excited that she got to reopen," Trost said. "I've been missing this for the last two months."
Trost kept up her workouts during the stay-at-home order. "Amanda would post our daily workout online, and I would always go for a walk during the day."
Alex Bonebrake and Kyle Palmquist were getting in their reps in the Dumbbells basement weightlifting area.
"I'm glad school is over and I can get back in a gym," Bonebrake said. "But now I'm trying to find a job for the summer!"
At the Crossfit gym in the old Lincoln Elementary school, where organized classes are an integral part of the routine, they've had to make a few adjustments.
Garett Hood and Stephanie Shuler were two of five people working out in the 6:15 p.m. class, and everyone was keeping their six-foot distance.
"I'm glad to be back," Shuler said. "I needed the motivation, because I've definitely put on a few quarantine pounds."
Garett Hood seemed a little winded during his workout, and admitted he wasn't always able to keep up with his workouts during the stay-at-home order. "I have a rig at home, so I tried to do what I could," he said, and then added with a smile, "but honestly, I'd rather go have a beer at Easy G."