GOLOCAL

"It's good to be back mate," says barber Andy Ross as he snips another bit of hair off.

It's early Thursday morning, the first day of level 2, and there's a buzz, excuse the pun, inside Andy's Barber Shop in Maclean St, Paraparaumu Beach.

Manning the front counter is Andy's wife, Cheryl, who has come on board to field phone calls, respond to haircut appointment requests as well as operate the cash register.

And next to Andy is apprentice barber Rhiannon Nottage, who he is mentoring.

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Having Cheryl and Rhiannon there will take a lot of heat off Andy, especially as the newly introduced appointment-only schedule is fully booked for many days to come.

The shop has also had a revamp with new front signage and, of course, there are the strict protocols around hygiene and social distancing.

Like many businesses in Kāpiti, the barbershop was impacted by the Covid-19 health crisis.

Andy Ross. Photo / David Haxton
Andy Ross. Photo / David Haxton

The Government's wage subsidy helped the shop get through those tough days of lockdown and level 3 but there were still running costs to pay such as rent, power and phone.

"Everyone is feeling the pinch and everyone wants to move forward," Andy says.

Being away from the business for so long brought its stresses for the couple, not to mention concern for family living overseas in England and Spain.

"I bought shares in Guinness," Andy jokes.

Andy busted a shoulder a few years ago so he had experienced time off work before.

Similar sorts of questions reappeared - what's going to happen next, when will it be normal, how much of the business will change?

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"The biggest challenge as a business was not knowing how people would feel about the changes, were they going to be worried, and the general unknown."

Family discussions about the way forward, and being open and empathetic to customers on social media, helped ease the uncertainty.

Andy's Barber Shop. Photo / David Haxton
Andy's Barber Shop. Photo / David Haxton

And the rallying of support from many quarters, including fellow shopkeepers has been humbling.

"Everyone is in the same boat," Andy says.

Reopening the doors was a bit like "starting afresh".

"I've been in the industry for 30 years and this is the biggest change I've ever seen."

It was simply a matter of "working it out and making it happen".

Andy says he might have to change the business a bit in the months to come while also retaining the traditional way of how he likes to run the business, which is open, off the cuff and a bit of banter.

But for now, it's simply a matter of getting people's hair cut – and the workload is encouragingly extensive.

Now's the time to work hard, maintain standards, keep the protocols in place, and enjoy the moment.

"What we do now is going to determine what happens for us in a few month's time."