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 LaRosa’s Barber Shop in St. Clair Shores has its open sign on June 4. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the following day that personal care businesses could reopen June 15.

LaRosa’s Barber Shop in St. Clair Shores has its open sign on June 4. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the following day that personal care businesses could reopen June 15.

Photo by Kristyne E. Demske

Barber opens shop prior to state reopening in St. Clair Shores

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published June 5, 2020


ST. CLAIR SHORES — Quietly, without social media posts or advertising, a local barber turned on the “open” signs, in defiance of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Executive Order ordering businesses providing “non-essential personal care services” shut due to COVID-19.

“I wasn’t concerned about me, but I have barbers that have young kids and families,” said Nicole LaRosa, manager and daughter of Tony LaRosa, the owner of LaRosa’s Barber Shop, 26899 Harper Ave.. “I did not want to make them sit home for another month.”

LaRosa said that before she opened the doors June 1, she went in and deep cleaned the barber shop. Her barbers are all wearing face shields or masks and each chair is disinfected in between customers. She said they are sanitizing equipment in between customers and have the ability to take temperatures, as well.

There are only a few chairs in the small barbershop, so LaRosa said they were encouraging customers to make an appointment. Walk-ins are still welcome, but if there is no stylist available when a customer arrives, they can sign in and wait in their vehicle until a chair is ready.

“We’re taking the extra precautions,” she said.

Local hair stylists and salon owners say that they are struggling after nearly three months of unemployment and frustrated as they watch other businesses given the green light to resume operations, even at a reduced capacity.

“It’s weird because dentists went back to work Monday and they’re digging in your mouth,” LaRosa said.

Whitmer announced June 5 a new executive order that would allow for personal services, including hair, nails, massage and tattoo parlors, to reopen across the state June 15.

“That has always been my goal to safely reengage,” she said during a press conference June 5. “Get ready, but stay vigilant. The sacrifice that we’ve made is paying off.”

Whitmer stressed that employees and clients should still wear face coverings, maintain social distancing, and have special hours for at-risk populations, along with regular sanitization of equipment.

Beginning in mid-March, the governor’s executive orders prohibited businesses deemed non-essential, including non-essential personal care services, from operating in response to the pandemic. An Owosso barber, Karl Manke, reopened his barber shop May 4 despite the executive order. He was shut down by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, or DHHS, and his case was heard by the Michigan Supreme Court, which has since ordered a lower trial court to issue a preliminary injunction ordering Manke to immediately cease all operations.

Opening early, LaRosa said that the fact that she could be fined or shut down “has crossed my mind.”

She said she hasn’t been posting on social media or advertising in any way because she is concerned about consequences for defying the governor’s order. Instead, she said, she just thought they’d flip on the open sign and “see what happens.”

What has happened is that, the first week she resumed operations, she’s had customers drive by and tell her they had to turn around on Harper Avenue when they saw they could get a cut.

“Most of them haven’t had haircuts in three months,” she said. “It’s the best feeling to sit in the chair and have your hair done.”