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vSnip-snip hooray! Bubbles and flowers for scissor hands as hairy hordes descend

Flagstaff Team

Saraj Taif spritzes local Clark Halford’s shaped curls at the Good Old Days Barbershop in Belmont

A champagne morning followed by a late night still on their feet marked the first busy day back at work for many hairdressers.

After around 100 days of zero income, their returning customers were a welcome sight.

“The first one brought a bottle of bubbles, the next a box of chocolates and then the third flowers,” said an overcome Holly Vivian, owner of Fringe salon at the King’s Store shops on Lake Rd.

To cope with pent-up demand her three staff are working into the evenings and on Mondays, when the salon is normally closed.

Louise Simpson of Louise Simpson Hair Studio on Victoria Rd spoke to the Flagstaff as she prepared to start a cut on a regular who came bearing a bottle of prosecco.

The support and advice of locals who had been in contact during the rollercoaster of lockdown had been touching, she said. “When you’re down they’re incredible.”

In Belmont, owner Saraj Taif of the Good Old Days Barbershop, said: “Some of the Navy boys have been texting me all the way from overseas, from Singapore.”

Taif said he had been repairing some “wife cuts” on his first day back.

One reopening issue was getting men used to the idea of booking, rather than just walking in, he said.

The same applied at the Devonport Barber Shop, which lays claim to being the country’s oldest. “A lot of people have been walking past and asking if they can come in,” said owner of 16 years Anna Osborne.

One was Elvin Petersen who asked for an appointment and was booked into a slot later in the day. “I like to be well groomed, said the 89-year-old Belmont man who, when asked if he had been counting down to a tidy-up, said: “You better believe it.”

All the owners said My Vaccine Passport scanning had worked well, though it had been a rush to get ready and rebook customers when the government last week made their industry a guinea pig for the new entry system and brought reopening forward from early December.

“We just weren’t expecting it,” said Osborne.

But being back was great after such a stressful time, they all said.

Vivian said seeing fantastic clients again and wanting them to feel comfortable was the focus after so long “ when we’ve just been on hold”.

Simpson said she was putting the economic implications of lost income aside for now to make sure everyone looked good before the holidays. Extra staff had been called in and she was using upstairs in her building to space out customers, enabling her to take extra bookings.

Both women have had their salons for 20-odd years.

Iraqi-born barber Taif is newer to the area, but says he feels welcome and touched that customers had been worried for his business. Despite being just 29, his barbering experience is considerable. He began in the trade at age 14 and is one of six brothers, all of whom are barbers.

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