Hair, nails and hobbies: Businesses see a flood of customers as ‘hunker down’ is eased in Anchorage
At a.m. Monday, Aslan sat down to his first pedicure in more than a month. He also got a fresh haircut, a bath and had his ears dyed purple. Even an elderly bichon frise’s regular routine was disrupted by Anchorage’s “hunker down” mandate. His fur and nails were twice as long as normal, said Brigitte Beitter, like many of her other Monday clients. “They were all behind a little bit, she said. Beitter owns and operates Brigitte’s Dog Grooming, which she runs out of her home in Midtown. Beitter is one of several business owners feeling relief after the city of Anchorage started allowing many businesses to open their doors Monday morning, after six weeks of closure due to the coronavirus. It’s a huge shift for Anchorage residents, who again have access to the services they were missing, albeit with strict guidelines. While nonessential businesses can open, they are restricted to % capacity, and some can only take reservations. Many Anchorage parking lots were still barren Monday afternoon, though more had flashing neon “open” signs than they did a week ago; a signal that life as the city knew it is slowly crawling back. B&J Sporting Goods owner Troy Arnold talks to a customer on the phone as businesses in Anchorage began to reopen on Monday, April , , during the coronavirus pandemic. Arnold said reopening for business is ’a relief. ’ ’We ve had nothing but happy customers coming in today and the employees are happy to get back to work. ’ Bill Roth ADN B&J Sporting Goods manager Mike Olson adjusts his ’Gone Fishing ’ mask as businesses in Anchorage began to reopen on Monday, April , , during the coronavirus pandemic. Bill Roth ADN The economic boon isn’t felt across the board. Creature comfort businesses, like hair and nail salons for humans and pets, seemed to come out on top. Beitter said over the last two weeks, she’s received about calls per day from people seeking dog grooming services. She’s booked out more than a week in advance. A few miles north, Lucy Castro ran an emery board across a long set of human nails, this pair belonging to one of the lucky few able to get an appointment at Lucy’s Nails. “If you want a last-minute appointment, it’s not going to happen,” Castro said. “We’ve been receiving calls all day today, unfortunately just turning down clients.” Castro is limiting the shop to two employees and two customers at a time, working on opposite ends of the room. Bev Holding, who has owned Bev s Dog Grooming for years, readies to reopen her business Tuesday with the help of groomer Angela Wilhelm. Bill Roth ADN Likewise, Bev Holding of Bev’s Dog Grooming, received about calls from customers since she shut down. She’s now booked out almost a month. And she needs it. “Moneywise, I don’t really want to say, but it’s been a lot,” she said of her losses during the city’s “hunker down” order. Something like grand.” Olivia Jenkins writes down a customer number while helping out her mother-in-law at the Northern Lights Barber Shop on Monday, April , , during the coronavirus pandemic. Jenkins who works as a personal trainers said, ’we thought it would be crazy today. ’ Bill Roth ADN Buy This Photo Steven Cehula wears a mask as barber Brian Lena cuts his hair at Northern Lights Barber Shop on Monday, April , , as businesses began to reopen during the coronavirus pandemic. Cehula said he tried cutting his own hair and ’screwed it up. ’ Bill Roth ADN At Spenard Road and Northern Lights Boulevard, Nick Jones was one of several waiting in line or in their car to patronize Anchorage House of Hobbies, which opened up curbside sales Monday. Jones was looking for drone supplies. The hobby shop was the only place Jones had visited Monday. He liked that they offered curbside service, and thought flying a quadcopter could help him kill some time. He figured the dozen or so other customers waiting their turn had a similar mindset. “This is a good way to get some of that time spent in a way that feels productive,” he said. Amanda Moser, executive director of Anchorage Downtown Partnership, said some downtown businesses are cautiously opening their doors, following safety guidelines that include limiting shoppers. That includes Skinny Raven Sports on Monday and Second Run consignment shop on Tuesday. Other businesses have reported struggling with finding enough personal protective equipment, such as hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes, so they won’t open immediately, she said. “Folks are really slowly easing into it and taking a measured approach,” she said. Some, though, gave it a go. “It’s pretty ghost town-y,” said Shane Rodgers, owner of the Sandwich Deck downtown. “It’s very, very slow. We’ve just been open to be open.” Niels Backers eats at Sandwich Deck restaurant in downtown Anchorage. Tables were separated for dine-in customers on April , . Marc Lester ADN Rogers had been doing takeout, but started dine-in service Monday. He said about six people made reservations. He hopes that the restrictions will continue to lift and that his business can operate at more than % capacity soon. Rogers’ business depends on an influx of tourists each summer and is sustained by loyal local customers and a tourism boost from the Iditarod in the winter. “Hopefully it all comes back soon. I don’t think anyone could survive how things are going right now,” Rodgers said. “I guess Alaska can only hope that by this time next summer, the tourists want to come back.” Tara Myers walks toward the entrance to Grizzly Gifts to hang a ’Yes! We re open ’ sign on April , . Marc Lester ADN At the Dimond Center, a few dozen cars dotted the expansive parking lot along Dimond Boulevard. Inside the mall, there was an after-hours feel as the vast majority of businesses remained shuttered. Dimond Center General Manager Robert Dye said the national chains in the mall, which make up about % of the tenants, weren’t given enough notice. He hopes they open up within the next couple weeks. Alaska Flower Shop owner Jennifer Grey said, ’I think people are excited to buy flowers, ’ as she made flower arrangements for customers after reopening her business off Tudor Road on Monday, April , , during the coronavirus pandemic. Bill Roth ADN Buy This Photo Bev Holding who has owned Bev s Dog Grooming for years displays some of the masks a customer made for her employees to wear as businesses in Anchorage began to reopen on Monday, April , , during the coronavirus pandemic. Bill Roth ADN Families, teenagers and couples milled about, all in masks and spaced far apart. They visited the handful of open restaurants and businesses like Arctic Pull Tabs and Indian Arts Emporium, a store selling clothing and accessories. “I just want to get out from the house,” Indian Arts owner Ibrahim Kouloo said with a laugh. His customers were equally stir-crazy, he said. And there was some financial benefit — Kouloo said he sold some products on Monday, but it was far from a normal day. Stylists at Salon Ivy in Midtown were busy Monday as they evened out home haircuts and corrected strands damaged by drugstore bleaches. “Some people have really done a number on themselves, and I do feel bad for them,” owner Brian Ivy said. By Monday afternoon, the salon had already filled appointments for the next few weeks and “the phone was ringing off the hook,” Ivy said. A teddy bear in a booster seat is set by the window at Snow City Cafe on April , . Snow City remained closed Monday, but a note on the restaurant s page said it would resume pickup and delivery service on May .Marc Lester ADN Differences between state and municipal regulations about when to open and what kind of personal protective gear was needed for salons was at first difficult to navigate, Ivy said. He managed to track down a box of masks and said he handed them out to cosmetologists who were in need. Everybody is having a hard time finding cloth masks and it is virtually impossible to find surgical masks because supply places are still reserving those for medical professionals, he said. Ivy said he let employees decide if they felt comfortable enough to work and some were hesitant to return. Ivy said he understands their concerns and thinks it may have been easier if all shops had waited a little longer to reopen. “We need to open now to stay open,” he said. “If we don’t open, our clients are going to go somewhere that is open. We’ve got a lot of other people’s clients that are coming to us because we’re open, or at least they’re calling us.” Because of a high volume of comments requiring moderation, we are temporarily disabling comments on many of our articles so editors can focus on the coronavirus crisis and other coverage. We invite you to write a letter to the editor or reach out directly if you’d like to communicate with us about a particular article. Thanks.