Merced County Times Newspaper
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Merced nail spa owner shares thoughts about path to reopening

Aileen Arroyo, owner of Polish’d Nail Spa at the Bear Creek Galleria in Merced, is happy to have reopened her business for indoor operations.
Aileen Arroyo, owner of Polish’d Nail Spa at the Bear Creek Galleria in Merced, is happy to have reopened her business for indoor operations.

On Sept. 22, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced that nail salons could reopen indoor operations.

Indoor nail spas were allowed to immediately reopen, but were required to comply with specific safety measures.

Times were tough for many salon owners during the closure due to the pandemic.

Fred Jones Legal Counsel with the Professional Beauty Federation of California, reported, “We estimate at least 20 percent of our salons have gone under.”

The Professional Beauty Federation of California, a 501 (c)(6) nonprofit trade association, acts as the voice of the State’s 621,000 hair/skin/nails licensed professionals and 53,000 plus licensed barbering/beauty establishments, and was active during the pandemic by calling on Governor Gavin Newsom to open the businesses.

Aileen Arroyo, owner of Polish’d Nail Spa located in the Bear Creek Galleria in Merced, told the Times, “We closed in mid-March, and were able to reopen legally this week [week of Sept. 22].

“I don’t personally know any nail salons in town that went out of business, but some, for whatever reason, didn’t seem to get a lot of financial relief.”

Arroyo owns her own shop and has no employees and doesn’t feel she suffered as much financially as others, although it was unnerving going through the processes to apply for State funds to make sure she could stay in business.

She explained, “I was denied State Unemployment the first time I applied because the computer wasn’t updated to take people who were self-employed. I had to resubmit my application, and the second time, I was accepted.  The State was able to pay me back, and if it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t have made it.

“I also applied for a Small Business Assistance (SBA) loan for disaster relief due to COVID-19.  I didn’t get it the first time around because they ran out of money.  Since they already had me on the list, when they brought more money into it, I was able to get it the second time around.  It paid my rent for the months I wasn’t open.”

When she was able to open, there were safety protocols to be followed, but she already had many of them in place.

Arroyo told the Times, “I never took walk-in clients.  Everyone I see makes an appointment.  I do manicures and other services to beautify nails for about 30 to 35 clients a week.

“Clients are required to wear a mask and wash their hands.  I can’t have more than two clients in my building because of its size, and they have to stay at least six feet apart.

“As far as the hygiene and sanitation protocols, manicurists are licensed by the State, and we always have to keep everything clean.  We always wipe down the table and clean our instruments.  I always wear gloves and a mask.

“I think going through the closure and reopening would be more difficult for bigger nail salons with more employees since they have to limit the number of clients who can be inside the business, and that cuts down their income.  I have a small overhead because it was just me doing the work.

“Only a couple of my clients haven’t returned, and that was because they were older and felt more of a need to stay home.

“I’ve been doing this for 15 years since I was 24, and I’ve owned my own business for 10 years.  I wouldn’t know what else to do for a career.  That’s the scary part when dealing with this kind of a crisis.  It really makes you think.”

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