In June, as part of the Canadian Business Resilience Network campaign, we, through the generosity of Salesforce (NYSE:CRM), gave 62 small Canadian businesses from coast to coast to coast $10,000 Small Business Relief Fund grants to help recovery efforts from the pandemic. Fewers Hairstyling was the recipient of one of the grants.
Tales of challenging times are nothing new to the resilient people of Newfoundland and Labrador. Nora Gaulton’s tale is no different. She has owned Fewers Hairstyling in Marystown for 13 years but has worked in this same business for a total of 42 years, having bought the business from the previous owner.
As the commercial centre for the Burin Peninsula, Marystown has a potential reach of over 21,000 residents. All highways and main roads on the Burin Peninsula pass through Marystown. The community faced tough times before COVID-19 hit and the pandemic has simply added to the troubles.
Fewers Hairstyling is located in the Marystown Mall and has been a tenant since the mall opened 50 plus years ago. The salon is the only original tenant, so Nora wants to hold that title a little while longer and it’s possible, she admits, that this is one of the forces that drives her to keep going – a pride of ownership and pride in the history of the salon.
After purchasing the business, Nora was able to grow the staff from three hairstylists to six. However, in 2019, the economy started a downward turn. Then COVID-19 hit. The business closed March 16, and all employees were laid off. The closure took a lot out of Nora financially. She did receive monies from government programs (CEWS/CERB), but from that money, the bills of the business had to be paid. At the end of the month, $350 was left. An application by the landlord for the CECRA would have helped, but the landlord determined it was too much paperwork.
The salon reopened in June, but July 2020 business was down 31% over last year since people are stretching out the time between haircuts and beard trims.
Fewers is a member of the Burin Peninsula Chamber of Commerce and the business has been the recipient of three business achievement awards, including the Community Spirit of the Year for Small Business, that bring Nora gratification as a small business owner.
Retrofits to the salon, made necessary for the business to accommodate necessary customer physical distancing, have meant that the grant monies were spent on immediate business needs. With health concerns at the top of everyone’s list, the cleanliness and sterility of the salon’s tools and furnishings is a necessity but also a big cost; these costs include sanitizer, masks, Plexiglas at work stations, disinfecting supplies, disposable caps, gloves and physical changes demanded by the landlord.
Challenges are nothing new to Nora or to Marystown. During a recent conversation, Nora said that she is concerned as she thinks about the future for her business but she is prepared to make changes as needed and will persevere. She is appreciative of the local chamber and how it has kept her business informed on programs throughout the COVID-19 crisis. Aware that the end is not yet in sight, Nora is one of the faces of business resilience in her community.