ST. CLAIR SHORES, Mich. – After spending weeks pouring over federal, medical and other states’ guidelines hoping to get her salon in St. Clair Shores ready to reopen, Lisa Shatko is ready to get back to work.
“I feel like I’m safer at some point from a Home Depot and Walmart,” Shatko said inside her empty salon.
Shatko, is wearing a mask, along with the other four women who would normally be styling hair or trimming nails if the salon hadn’t closed in March after a customer tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) before Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order.
“I’ve been in the industry, I’ve been in St Clair shores, my whole career basically. So, since 1984 I’ve had my own business,” she said.
Shatko said she’s spent countless hours gathering disinfectants, collecting protective equipment and stripping her salon bare of personal items in order to be ready to reopen safely. Some of the PPE and cleaning supplies are on display on her reception counter, which faces five of eight walled off salon suites in the building.
Shatko thinks she could reopen, but said she’s a “rule follower.” She’s waiting on direction from Lansing that so far hasn’t come and every day things get just a little harder for her and the women to whom she rents space.
“I have a single mom that works for me. I have women that live on their own that work for me. We need to go back to work,” Shatko said.
Right now, there is no official guidance for personal touch businesses like barbershops, hairdressers or nail salons to open safely. Some industries, like automakers and manufacturers were allowed to reopen, public health experts warn it could be another two weeks before another set of business sectors could reopen as the state waits to for any possible fallout of reopening some of the largest portions of the state economy. It’s unclear how far down on the list of sectors to be reopened personal touch businesses sit.
Shatko also says she hasn’t been able to secure a loan from the Small Business Association because she doesn’t technically employ the women who work in the salon. Some of her stylists have also had trouble receiving unemployment and at least one woman said she still hasn’t received her federal stimulus check.
Some, like a salon owner in Texas who was jailed for opening early -- or a barber in Owasso, MI who said he’s going to defy the governor’s order have taken matters into their own hands. But Shatko says she’s not like them and instead had a message for the Governor.
“We’re ready. If she wants me to do something else please send me more guidelines, I, we just want to go back to work in a safe sensible way,” Shatko, who has asthma, said. “I just want her to know that I worked just as hard, I may not have a job that I’m a celebrity or somebody that’s on TV. But I am the face my, my girls at work we were the face of people who, who have worked very hard just like she has. And I do want to be respectful of who she is, I just want her to hear me.”
Shatko says it's not just about keeping the lights on but also welcoming customers back in. About a half dozen of her long time regulars came to support her on Tuesday from a safe distance. All said they were in need of one service or another from their regular stylist. Shatko, in solidarity made a point of pointing our her graying roots which she’s let grow out in solidarity with her customers.
“They need to get open. It’s their livelihood, their way of life,” Lisa Wagensomer said from the parking lot “They gotta get back to living.”