Who wants a haircut?! How about a tattoo?! As a new round of reopening within Phase 2 get underway there is much that will stay the same as you go for a haircut, colored or changed or getting your nails done as well as heading to a tattoo parlor but a lot will be different as well.

One thing that's certain is business owners and residents alike are excited to get back into their normal routines.

The pandemic and subsequent closures have been a dagger to businesses forced to close for any period of time especially ones that just opened on Monday and any who still have yet to open their doors.

The financial sting has been felt at Nia Sofia Salon on Route 37 in Toms River, but owner Christina Menagos is confident they'll be able to make up for lost time.

"We are going to make it back, we may not make what we lost back but we will come back to the top again," Menagos said. "We've thrived off of running a business that was 'the coffee shop meets New York City luxury' and I think we'll just take that and carry on and make up for what we lost."

They are taking all the cleaning measures necessary to keep everyone safe and healthy at the salon.

"We have separated where we need to, our shampoo sinks are now divided by plexiglass so that will keep people from any kind of splatter or touching while they're back there," Menagos said. "We have also ordered more towels and capes. We've always individually used them but just for the busy days, because we are anticipating to be very busy, everybody will have individual use towels and capes while brushes and combs will be sanitized in between and everybody has their own sanitizing bottles at their stations."

Paige Principato, a hair stylist at Headz or Nailz salon on Lacey Road in the Forked River section of Lacey Township, says they're providing time and space for clients getting their hair or nails done while ensuring health and safety.

"For Nails, all of the clients have their own issued personal tools and everything now," Principato said. "For Hair, we're booking a little more time and we're not overbooking so the clients appointment is their appointment. We're also sanitizing between each client."

Headz or Nailz has also seen a financial impact during the pandemic but are hopeful that as everything opens up and people feel more comfortable going out, business will pick up.

"We are hoping so for sure. A lot of people have been calling to come in so I'm sure that as everything gets back to normal, more and more people are going to call in and schedule an appointment," Principato said.

At Tailored Barber on Fischer Boulevard in Toms River, owner Bobby Menagos, explains that the loyal clients that they have will help in overcoming the financial impact to the barbershop.

"I think we'll fine in time especially with the loyalty of our clients and everybody wanting to be back from what we see with everybody calling us and leaving us messages," Menagos said.

He is willing to do whatever it takes to stay open and make sure everyone feels safe.

"We're just happy to know that we're back to what we can do in our careers, our craft that we love," Menagos said. "I just said whatever they (the State of New Jersey) give us, I'll take...if it's a shield or a mask to wear...if I've got to wear a jumpsuit...whatever you got to give me, I'll do just to come back. We want to be safe in coming back to doing what we have to do, which was taken from us and it was hard but now we're back with the team and the guys and the clients we're going to see daily and weekly."

The quarantine period and closure of tattoo shops has given people a lot of time to think about new ideas of some ink they want to get and that should help provide a boost to parlors in the area.

Rich Bazzanella, the owner of Hot Rod Inkin on Ocean Gate Avenue in Ocean Gate says that they lost a lot of money while being closed but they've otherwise held on okay being aided by a Small Business Loan and as long as thing keep trending in a positive direction, they'll see a boost in business.

"I think people are willing to come back and I think that they're definitely going to come back," Bazzanella said. "As long as the Coronavirus doesn't have a second wave and we don't have to close again, I think we're going to be fine. Everyone is really anxious to get tattooed. We're already booked right back up to where we were so besides this three month gap we're going to be fine."

Stephanie Schmelter, the owner of Art Gallery Tattoo in Forked River explains that being closed has been tough on them personally.

"On a personal level, it's been tough for us artists. One stimulus check is hard to stretch out through three months of no income, with personal and shop bills both piling up. Only a couple of us have had luck with NJ Unemployment and even that help did not come until almost May," Schmelter said.

The closure of their shop for three months has also been tough on their business finances.
"Reopening is a bit of a double edged sword for us. While we are eager to get back to work, we are also worried about the risk to both our health and the health of our clients and at-risk family members. But like many small businesses, at this point remaining closed is simply not an option, we need the income to survive," Schmelter said. "We're very fortunate to have so many clients reaching out to us who are ready to get back in the chair and we'll do our best to provide a safe and sanitary place for that to happen."

Ocean County residents are looking forward to getting a haircut, their nails done or a new tattoo.

For Jose, heading in for a tattoo is his way of distressing.

"To be honest with you, it's my therapy and it's been a while, so this is my therapy session for me."

Paul is relieved to be back in the barbershop getting a haircut after what's felt like four or five months.

"It feels great to be in the chair, it's going to feel even better in a half-hour when I get all this off and it won't feel like I'm wearing a wool hat anymore."

Melissa explains that it's a great feeling to be back in the salon again.

"It's probably one of the most incredible feelings of all time," she explains. "I was coming once a week for probably six-years so to be home and I was also very pregnant so to be home for three months and to not be able to have the same services was a little difficult but I'm sure people had it worse so I don't want to complain too much."

You can follow Vin Ebenau on Twitter and Instagram and email news tips to vin.ebenau@townsquaremedia.com.

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