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Postcards From The Pandemic: No Haircuts, No Band Gigs For Barbershop Owner

Before Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine ordered barbershops and hair salons closed, Black Cat Barbershop on Cleveland’s West Side wrestled with what do to do.

“Every day was this weird tug of war, of like, ‘Should we be open? Is it responsible to be open?’” co-owner Ryan Hardwick said. “It was heavy, it was heavy. I was glad he shut us down. To be honest, it was like, he did it for us. He made the decision for us. And I guess that’s really what we were waiting for.”

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Shops across the state have been dormant for more than two weeks now, shuttered along with many other businesses in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The closures have thrown Hardwick and other business owners into the economic wilderness. He’s had difficulty with the state’s unemployment system, and said that his claim has been denied. Now he’s looking for small business assistance. 

The pandemic has also put a damper on Hardwick’s music. With bars and venues closed, his band, Last Gasp, can’t play shows. Hardwick, the band’s vocalist, is devoting some of his stay-at-home time to writing lyrics, he said.

He’s trying to remain hopeful. There’s now a message of encouragement posted on the shop window: “We’ll get through this together...while apart...humanity will prevail!”

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A hopeful message posted at Black Cat Barbershop in Cleveland. [Nick Castele / ideastream]

When Scissors Go Silent

At some point, with the barbershop shut down, my money will dry up. I don’t know man, it’s stressful, it really is.

I mean, the stimulus checks are going to be great. That $1200, I could probably pay all my bills for maybe a month.

So many people in Cleveland, so many friends of mine are struggling with these same issues. It’s not just me.

A lot of people have been hitting me up for haircuts, which is insane. I feel terrible, it’s like, believe me, I want to make money, I want to be cutting hair, this is crazy. But I think it’s just irresponsible at this point, you know?

Waiting To Rock Again

When I’m not on a government lockdown, I play in a punk rock band. And I’ve been trying to write a lot. It’s funny, because I feel so tapped.

I’ve never played the House of Blues before, and we were going to play the House of Blues in May, and now that’s canceled.

Woe is me to be bummed about a punk rock show being canceled…I’d like to think the bigger picture is people are really out there in pretty terrible spots, so I can’t complain, you know?

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