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Salon owners feel overlooked in Michigan re-opening phases

Posted at 4:53 PM, May 13, 2020

GRAND RAPIDS — Salon owners are asking the state for more guidance and direction about how and when they could safely re-open. As of right now, salons and similar services aren’t listed in the governors MI Safe Start Plan.

Elisabeth Bartrom and her husband own Chasing Vanity Salon in downtown Grand Rapids and tells FOX 17 that they feel businesses like theirs are being overlooked.

Bartrom said they have come up with ideas about how to safely re-open their doors, but they have no indication as to whether those plans will be enough to meet state guidelines.

“I have sent out thousands of emails and I’m just trying to get someone to take me serious,” she said.

So far though, she feels as if she’s spinning her wheels.

“There are thousands and thousands of salons just in Michigan alone, so to just overlook that industry altogether is... it’s just not okay,” she said.

Bartrom along with about 50 other salon owners in the private Grand Rapids Beauty Society Facebook group have been putting their heads together to come up with their own plans.

Bartrom said she’s already updated her computer system so guests will check in and check out via phone app, to reduce the number of people waiting for their appointment and crowding around the front desk area.

She added, that they’ve come up with detailed plans to protect employees and clients during their service.

She said, “Just really taking our environment into our own hands, so we can control the sanitization. Also putting up partitions between the shampoo bowls, making sure our team is wearing masks and face shields.”

Adding to the frustration, there’s not even a tentative return-to-work date for salons.

“If it’s not safe to open, I understand, just tell me that. If you tell me ‘July 15th,’ at least that’s the plan,” Bartrom said.

But without a road map, Bartrom said it’s impossible to know if they’ll meet the states standards once they get the green light.

She said, “It’s hard when you’re not open and not bringing in income to be pouring thousands of dollars into something, that who knows, maybe it’s not effective.”
Not to mention, gathering personal protection equipment hasn’t been the easiest.

Bartrom said, “These things take time. I ordered masks, and there is an eight week lag on some of these things and you certainly don’t want to take anything away from healthcare workers.”

While keeping her employees and customers safe is the top priority, she said it’s not their only concern.

“There’s only so long a business can not be open before you have to make that decision, can you come back from this?”

Just this week, the James Salon announced they would have to close their original location in East Grand Rapids.

James Garnant, the salons owner said, “We are all grieving the loss of that and we are happy to have had those experiences, but we are fortunately all moving forward.”

Garnant said thankfully, they’ll be keeping all their staff and merging with their Ada location, but echoes Bartrom’s frustrations calling on the Governor’s Office for answers.

He said, “Gretch, we love you girl, but you have to reach out to us and throw us some love and give us some guidance on what we can do or what that looks like for us or what phase. Just give us something that we know what this is going to look like.”

Bartrom hopes by speaking up, they’ll get the answers they need, so they can get back to doing what they love.

She said, “Even if it’s a small business, it is still a business. To be left out of the conversation is insulting. I run $1 million business, I care about the community, I give 35 people jobs, in turn they take care of their clients, and put money back into this community.”

The Kent County Health Department said they are working on a set of guidelines for salons to safely re-open and they hope to release those later this week.