‘Devastating’: Barbershop owner worries about rebuilding his business after coronavirus

Coronavirus

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The owner of Tony’s Unisex Barbershop off Monticello Avenue, Tony Lankford, says right now he and his employees are without jobs.

Lankford has owned the barbershop since 1997 and says he couldn’t have imagined a day when he’d be forced to close his doors.

“We understand it’s very important we have social distancing, we are supportive of that. But at the same time, that’s just one problem — we also have to survive this financially,” Lankford said.

He says he’s aware of the stimulus package that could come in a few weeks, but even then, that might be too late for some.

“It’s devastating, it’s absolutely devastating. There’s no words to explain what this would mean to the people who work here, to the community. I can’t even begin to come up with a plan of trying to rebuild it once we’re out of business for a month or two months,” he said.

He and the nine barbers at his shop are now temporarily without jobs but still have families to provide for.

He says he understands the severity of the situation, but in a lot of ways, barbershops are the pulse of the community because they are a safe haven away from crime. Sometimes, they’re even a venting spot for those dealing with personal problems.

Lankford says he’s in turmoil right now and feels there has been a lack of guidance from the government.

“We were told to shut down but we weren’t told what to do, you understand? So if you’re going to take the position of you can’t work then we need some input on what can we do. Can we go from home to home? Can we take appointments? That hasn’t been explained,” said Lankford.

Ultimately, when the businesses are allowed to open back up, he hopes barbershops are also included with others, like restaurants.


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