CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio — With businesses in Ohio set to reopen soon, many store owners are taking steps to make sure it's safe for them to do so.
Ron LaRue is the owner of Heights Uptown Barbershop in Cleveland Heights, which has been closed since March 18. He said he's been back a couple times since the closure to sanitize the shop.
LaRue is no stranger to keeping things clean. It's part of what he does normally. But as he prepares to open on Friday, May 15, he's going beyond normal cleaning and disinfecting to keep the place safe for himself, his customers and the four other barbers who work there.
"I came up here ahead of time, stacked the chairs, moved them out the way, made sure I put up a sign," LaRue said. "Cleared out all the magazines like the other places, took the business cards away."
Of the shop's closure, LaRue said, "It was kind of depressing at first."
He described it as a big change in lifestyle for him, "from being a person that gets up every morning at the same time, going to work, to just sitting around the house doing nothing. It was kind of stressful, not to mention losing your income."
LaRue is excited to reopen and said his customers are, too.
"Texts and the phone’s been going rapidly, that’s all I can say," LaRue said. "Everybody knows."
He knows it'll be different when things open back up with all the precautions and safeguards he's put in place.
"I think one of the biggest challenges is going to be becoming accustomed to this new normal," LaRue said. "Wearing a mask every day. We [were] already familiar with the gloves, but wearing a mask, trying to advise the customers to wear the mask and just staying in order with the restrictions that we have right now. I think that’s going to be the biggest hurdle, getting that down pat."
Of his feelings on reopening, LaRue said, "It’s a little anxiety going on, but happiness at the same time. Thanking the Lord this day has finally come so we can get back to work and get back to our regular lives. Even though it’s not gonna be quite regular, we just get back to work like everybody else."
LaRue said he intends to have a specific time frame where only older people may come to get their hair cut, likely earlier in the day.
"I think that’s going to definitely help them to become comfortable, cause I know that they feel like they're more at risk," LaRue said. "By us implementing that and putting up signs, letting them know like, 'Hey, we have a specific time frame that you can come in,' I think that’ll help a lot."
He said when the shop reopens May 15, he wants people to know "this environment’s going to be just as safe as any other environment. We’re gonna treat it seriously."