After five weeks of silence, Barber Daniel Hartsfield’s shop on the Columbia square was bustling with activity on Wednesday as the local shop reopened from Tennessee’s statewide mandatory shutdown on all barbershops and salons caused by the spreading coronavirus.
The return to business remains far from normal as both barbers and customers are required to wear face masks.
Those seeking a professional shave must continue to wait until the Tennessee Board of Cosmetology and Barber Examiners deems it safe to do so, Hartsfield said.
“I was a little skeptical at first but everybody is wearing masks and proper protective gear,” said Cory Pryor, a new customer to the shop. “I felt safe and they did a good job.”
He said it had been several months since his last haircut.
“I am very thankful to be able to come in and get all the locks cut off,” Pryor said.
After the longest break in his career, Hartsfield, best known for his flattop haircuts, returned to his chair inside the shop with a busy schedule of appointments.
“It has been next to overwhelmingly busy,” Hartsfield told The Daily Herald while taking a short break from a booked schedule of appointments.
He said that the requirement to use gloves while cutting hair made for a new test of skill on the opening day of business, but cleanliness and sanitation is a pillar of the trade.
For those customers who arrived without a face mask, a fresh mask was available for purchase for $1, the same price that he purchased the masks for, Hartsfield said.
“It is a challenge, but it’s good to be open to take care of our customers,” Hartsfied said. “It is good to get back with them.”
The veteran barber said the past five weeks have been tough on him and his staff, their bank accounts and their emotional well-being.
“Part of what we do is the connection that we make with our customers,” Hartsfield said. “Not having that connection makes it very difficult to keep your attitude positive. It’s not something that I want to ever experience again.”
Hartsfield and his wife Rena, who was busy scheduling an unending flow of calls for appointments on Wednesday, moved to Columbia from St. Petersburg, Florida, where he owned a barber shop. After driving a truck, he went back to cutting hair and fell in love with the idea of helping Maury County’s county seat revive its downtown square.
After 11 years of business, the extended shutdown has been one of the shop’s largest challenges with the ongoing initiative to bring Columbia’s downtown square into a new era of prosperity.
“We have something really special here on the square and we intend to get every bit of that back,” Hartsfield said. “It was kind of disheartening to come down over the past few weeks. The square would be empty. That was not a comfortable feeling. It’s heartwarming to get back to it.”
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