Powell barbershop owner grateful to reopen

Local News

POWELL, Tenn. (WATE) – Hair salons and barbershop customers are returning to their favorite shops for either a long-awaited trim or shape up after weeks of closure due to COVID-19.

On Friday, WATE 6 On Your Side’s Don Dare spoke with a barbershop owner about how he made it through the closure without going out of business.

Two months ago, the barbershop owner had feared he would not be able to reopen if the health crisis lasted for more than a few weeks. The coronavirus pandemic has drastically impacted small business owners with uncertainty and confusion. Back in March, loans were made available to help keep small businesses afloat.

There was also stimulus money, plus unemployment compensation that could possibly sustain owners for a while.

In Powell, Bobby Strader is pleased to have one of his regular customers, 7-year-old Kason Stooksbury, back in the barber’s chair.

This is the first time since mid-March, Bobby and other barbers, as well as hair stylists, have been able cut hair after restrictions on the stay-at-home order were lifted a few days ago.

For Mr. Strader, his unemployment checks from the state and stimulus money from the federal government helped pay his bills so he could reopen this week.

“I have been real busy this week.  I think I’ve cut for over 40 so far. I still have today to go. I’m glad to be back to work and glad to see all my customers,” Bobby Strader said. “We can’t navigate the system that the government is telling us to use.”

It was March 30, when Strader talked with Cliff Caudill, a retired business executive who works for SCORE, which partners with the Small Business Administration as a source of free business mentoring for shop owners like Strader.

At his business in March, Strader tried but without success to register for the special COVID-19 loan being offered to small business owners. Eventually, Caudill was able to assist Strader getting the information he needed. Turned out that loan was not the right strategy, however.

“With me being a small business that loan was not fit for me,” Strader said. “So he helped me and that’s how I received the unemployment. That was the best route for me to take being a small business such as myself.”

Now, with the shop reopened, there are some new steps to take: Before and after customers either enter or leave his shop, the place gets a thorough scrub-down.

Strader says adjusting to the new health restrictions and standards of operation protect both his clients health and his own.

“I’m going to do everything I can to secure their safety and their family as well as myself and my own family,” Strader said.

Although he never got that special small business loan he and Cliff Claudill discussed in March, Bobby is grateful to SCORE and the assistance it provides.

“A few of the small businesses around, whenever we did our last interview, they were like, I’m so glad that you did that,” Strader said. “They struggled as well with the internet and trying to navigate that system. So it provided and avenue for them to get back to work as well.”

Now that he’s back open, Bobby Strader thanks customers for their trust in his effort to take every precaution necessary to make his shop a safe place to do business again.

Bobby Strader says that $1,200 stimulus check and the CARES Act signed March 27 made the difference between closing and being able to reopen.

The CARES Act gave Tennessee the option of extending unemployment compensation to independent contractors, like Strader, and other workers, who are ordinarily ineligible for unemployment benefits.

Now, he intends to build his savings so he doesn’t again have to fear going out of business.

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