Small Biz Saturday: Campus Barber & Beauty Salon hit hard by pandemic

The small business amped up its safety protocols by using certain stations, adding plastic barriers and installing an air filter. (Campus Barber & Beauty Salon)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Right on the corner of East William and Maynard streets, Campus Barber & Beauty Salon typically serves University of Michigan students and staff, visitors to Ann Arbor and local professionals.

But like most businesses in Tree Town, the barbershop and salon has seen a huge loss in income over the past year due to the lack of students and professionals downtown.

“We were on the edge of surviving as it was,” said owner Matthew Hickey, explaining that his rent increased by 30% a few years ago when new owners took over the building.

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Then, the small business was hit hard when it was forced to close for three months due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Hickey said.

Due to the pandemic and social distancing, the salon and barbershop went from having seven people working every day down to two or three, each making a commission between $40 to $50 per day. Stylists and barbers who used to do two or three haircuts an hour went down to just doing three or four a day.

Campus Barber & Beauty Salon has been serving Ann Arbor students and professionals for almost 30 years. (Campus Barber & Beauty Salon)

Hickey, a cosmetologist himself, only works two-and-a-half days a week at the salon.

“Not only are we taking less home per day, we’re working a lot less days a week too,” he said.

Things picked up when the salon reopened but business plummeted again.

“A lot of our business is students, so the students went home and the summer was pretty tough,” Hickey said.

To make up for the lack of business, Campus Barber & Beauty Salon has had to adapt.

It instituted COVID protocols including temperature checks, discontinuing services that might require clients to remove their masks, adding dividers between stations and installing a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter.

The salon and barbershop now offers $50 private appointments on Sundays. During those appointments, the only people allowed in the barbershop and salon are Hickey and a client, he said.

The small business also charges a $5 COVID fee, which goes towards keeping it afloat.

Early on in the pandemic, the salon and barbershop started a GoFundMe campaign that raised about $1,500. That money did help, but it was less than half of the business’s monthly rent of $4,000.

Hickey has reached out to his landlords. He said that they haven’t been pushy about getting their money right now, but they haven’t been interested in lowering or forgiving rent either.

On Monday, Jan. 4, the salon restarted its campaign to try to raise $12,000. It hasn’t been able to acquire a PPP loan and business has dropped by 80% according to the campaign page.

Find the Campus Barber & Beauty Salon GoFundMe here.

Campus Barber & Beauty Salon is at 524 E. William St. in downtown Ann Arbor (Campus Barber & Beauty Salon)

Hickey’s family has owned the business in downtown Ann Arbor for almost 30 years. His father started Campus Barber & Beauty Salon as a barbershop in Nickels Arcade. At one point, three generations of the family, Hickey, his father and his daughter, who is also a cosmetologist, all worked together.

The salon and barbershop is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays.

Those interested in private appointments on Sundays can contact Hickey at 734-741-0869.

Find it on the corner of East William and Maynard at 524 E. William St.

About the Author:

Sarah has worked for WDIV since June 2018. She covers community events, good eats and small businesses in Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in Applied Linguistics from Grand Valley State University.