South Beach Salon Blues in Clearwater Beach

In mid-May, my wife and I spent several weeks in Clearwater Beach waiting for the self-quarantine to end in Illinois when my wife said she needed a haircut. I've learned many years ago that if your wife decides she needs a haircut, I encourage her to do so. She looked online for several nearby salons that had very favorable reviews and found South Beach Salon. She had a 4 p.m. appointment and entered the business with her mask although what she was about to experience was dissimilar from their online reputation.


A little background, Florida had closed hair salons and barber shops for roughly two months, but they are now open for business. First, neither the owner nor the other hairstylist was wearing a mask. My wife had recently read that one of the guidelines of opening up in Florida, a mask must be worn by an employee while providing personal services in the barbershop or salon. When my wife questioned her, the response by the owner was that there's no risk in contracting the virus (not sure if she had studied epidemiology in college). What if the hair stylist was asymptomatic? Instead of reacting to the needs or wants of a customer, she merely downplayed the risk. (Full disclosure, the hair stylist did eventually put on a mask after my wife's hair was shampooed and the owner finally sensed my wife was much more comfortable if she did so.) After some chit-chat, my wife mentioned that she lives in Illinois and one response by the owner was that your governor is simply trying to hurt Trump’s reelection chances.

One could argue that Pritzker, the Governor of Illinois, is being too strict with the quarantine. People from both sides of the aisle could argue this. However, I hardly think it's all about trying to ruin businesses in Illinois and boot Trump from office. One must realize that how Pritzker handles this will be eventually decided at the ballot box. With Federal leadership lacking, state governors were forced to handle things on their own. In other words, Pritzker did shutdown Illinois for over two months but it was done to lessen the curve and provide more time for medical professionals to better understand the Coronavirus.


Getting back to the South Beach Salon, my wife was more than generous by tipping 20%. As she was about to leave, the owner waved a ‘walk-in’ customer into the salon. According to the Florida Health Covid 19 website, Barbershops and salons must manage capacity of the premises based on an appointment-only schedule and must allow at least 15 minutes between the conclusion of an appointment and the beginning of the next appointment for proper disinfecting practices. Needless to say, this was not followed.

Imagine Getting A European Facial Or Body Waxing During A Pandemic In Florida?

A few things from a business perspective, why would the salon owner make a political statement? Should not someone in business know there are certain topics that shouldn’t be breached with new and for that matter, existing customers? Two, the hair salon has been closed for about two months due to COVID-19, wouldn’t they do everything in their power to improve the chances that first-time customers may become regular customers and pass along their good experience to others via word of mouth? Three, the stylist blew dry her hair even though my wife had read this isn’t something that should be done during a pandemic as it increases the chances of germs being moved around. Four, the stylist didn't exercise good emotional intelligence – if a customer is wearing a mask, perhaps stylists should quickly adapt accordingly, even if they don't believe it's effective (Especially if social distancing is not adhered to). As the haircut was complete and as my wife was leaving, the owner asked if she would come back soon to visit. Really? Talk about the lack of emotional intelligence.


Written by Kevin Schwarm

Libertyville, Illinois

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I'm a photographer, observer, writer, traveler with a unique perspective on life, travel, work, customer service & the print medium.