Merced County Times Newspaper
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Downtown hair salon receives grants, reopens for services


On June 1, Retro Lux Hair Salon & Lounge at 436 W. Main Street in Merced reopened for customers to come in and get their hair done after making good use of two grants which helped to beautify the business, as well as make changes in preparation for the public to return safely in accordance with the guidelines.

About the reopening of her business, owner Charla Lamberson told the Times, “It was announced that for barber shops and hair salons, only hair services could reopen.

“So we are open for cutting, coloring, keratin treatment, fashion color, and Balayage, and we do men’s hair cuts also.

“We offer other services, but we can’t do those right now.  One example is waxing, which we can’t do yet because you’re touching the face.  We’re hoping that will be able to start next month.”

When asked what happened with her business since its closure due to the pandemic, Lamberson told the Times, “We closed in March as soon as the State Board of Cosmetology and Barbering said we had to close.

“I was scared because I’m a sole proprietor of the salon, and I’m the only provider for my family of six.  Your income is suddenly cut off, and then you still have to pay bills.

“I got unemployment, and that helped a lot.

“I also got two grants. I’m probably a block from El Capitan Hotel, and they contacted me and asked me if I wanted to fill out a survey. The survey asked if you were looking for a grant or a loan, so I asked for the grants and I got the funds. The funds paid for painting my building and a new sign, and for buying materials for partitions to be added between stations for social distancing.”

Retro Lux Hair Salon received the grants through Lift our Community, a program that is funded by El Capitan Hotel, Mainzer and Tioga, which is all under one ownership and management group. The purpose of one grant was to help Lamberson stay in business and be able to reopen and that is the one she used for help with the social distancing aspect, and the other grant was used to help beautify her exterior space.

Robin Donovan, Managing Director, El Capitan Hotel/Mainzer/The Tioga, told the Times, “Having a positive impact on the Merced community is part of our mission. In May, we launched a program to offer targeted grants to businesses based downtown. The program is a way for us to have a positive impact and is part of our local Community Impact budget. We know that in order for our community to succeed, we all need to thrive and work together for the common good and this is one of the best ways to ensure this outcome.”

The grants were greatly appreciated.

Lamberson told the Times, “I had been saving up money to change things in my store, and that ended up going towards bills. So I was very thankful for the help.

“The partitions are pretty high. We made them with PVC pipe and plastic, and we arranged them on towers between the stations. The staff and clients felt better when they saw how the stations are separated because they have their own cubby instead of open space.

“There are stricter requirements for cleaning because of the virus. I was already cleaning as the State Board requires, and now I feel like I’m overdoing cleaning just to be safer.  I’m doing double cleaning by cleaning with cloths and then spraying with Lysol.

“I also ordered a sterilizing light that stays on one hour after everyone leaves.  It disinfects a 500 square foot room in an hour.  It’s supposed to kill germs if anyone missed anything.

“The customers are required to wear a mask while in the salon.

“When customers arrive for the appointment, they stay in their car and they text us, and then we disinfect the shampoo bowl, the station and tools from the last client, and then we let the next customer know to come in and they sign a waiver.”

Business is expected to resume as normal in the near future, but sadly some clients have been reluctant to come in, and others don’t want to wear a mask.

Lamberson explained, “I had a customer call and make an appointment, but she canceled the next day because she decided to wait a little longer.  The virus has put fear in people.

“I kept all my clients on my books. Ten of them decided to wait and not come in yet. Some have underlying medical conditions and didn’t want to chance it quite yet.

Lamberson concluded, “Including myself, there are five people working here.

“We are open Monday through Saturday.  We’re taking appointments.  I go in from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., but for example, tomorrow I will stay until 6 p.m.

“We will always extend our hours to come in earlier or stay later, if need be.

“We’re excited to be open again for our hair services, and we’re looking forward to seeing our clients and meeting more.”


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