Small businesses still struggling despite reopening; owners holding breath for Phase 2

Many small business owners still struggling despite reopening

(WAFB) - The bell on the front door of Labella Salon in Denham Springs is ringing a little more now than it has in the past two months.

Stylists at Alisha Warr’s salon are booked up for the next three weeks, but the amount of people whose hair can be cut and colored is limited each day by the governor’s 25% capacity restriction on salons.

“It’s definitely not the same because you have to extend your people,” said Brandi Turner, one of the stylists at La Bella’s.

Clients have to wait in their cars until the current one is completely done. Before the shutdown, Turner would be able to see multiple clients at a time. As a result, money is down, and she’s struggling to make ends meet.

“It can’t go like this, not, you know, when you kind of set up your bills and your lifestyle the way your income is, you and your spouse’s income, no, we need the full-time clients,” she said.

Most of her money now goes toward buying supplies and paying for her booth.

Warr has started collecting rent from her stylists again, but with them not able to take as many clients, she knows money isn’t going to be what it was before, plus with added overhead costs to meet the guidelines set forth by Gov. John Bel Edwards, money is tight.

“Our overhead is more with the things that we have to provide to our clients," Warr said. “The increased hand sanitizer for everyone, of course that doesn’t seem like a lot, but it is. It adds up quick. Even if it’s providing printed documents to each client, that becomes something to consider as an expense. We cannot sustain for a long period of time.”

It’s a similar story for Frank’s Restaurant in north Baton Rouge.

When the coronavirus shutdown started, owner, Frank Dedman Jr., resorted to takeout orders only, but after a couple of weeks, he was forced to shut down.

“We said our prayers and we did what we were supposed to do to keep staying alive,” Dedman said. “We went to our banker, we took the government loans, and we did what we had to do to reopen.”

Frank’s reopened Friday, May 15 under the new order issued by the governor. Customers have streamed into the diner, but Dedman says it’s not enough to balance the budget.

“Right now, we’re not meeting completely the budget,” he said. “Twenty-five percent just kind of allows you to open.”

He’s still bleeding cash and this soft reopen is nothing more than a Band-Aid.

“Right now, to stop the bleed, it’s to let everyone know that its not scary out here, it’s okay to come out, and to start enjoying the things that you’ve always enjoyed to do, which is to go out to eat,” Dedman said.

Gov. Edwards is not expected to announce his plans for further reopening the state’s economy until early June, so until then, small business owners will have to hope the Band-Aid sticks long enough for them to get to Phase 2.

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