Jackie Netherton isn’t sure what she’ll miss most about the closure of beauty parlors and salons: her paycheck or the commeraderie.

“We are very much a family. We have been together for years. We spend more time here than with our own families,” said Netherton, a stylist at Abigail’s Salon and Spa in Waynesville.

They will not only miss each other, but also the customers they have forged close bonds with. For many seniors, getting their hair done is one of the few social outlets they have all month.

“I’ve been a hairdresser for 48 years and this is a first,” Netherton said.

Netherton is, of course, worried about the loss of income, too. As a widow, she’s the only breadwinner in her household.

“It is a scary time. We know everyone is facing the same battles and same hardships,” Netherton said.

Most stylists aren’t eligible for unemployment, however. They work as private contractors — not someone’s employee. So they aren’t technically getting laid-off so to speak.

Yes, they are losing income, just like a musician, or housekeeper, or landscaper who has lost business. But unless they are on the payroll of a company, they can’t get unemployment unless there’s new legislation passed to expand benefits stemming from coronavirus.

Dipping into her retirement savings would normally be an option, but given the stock market hit, that’s not looking good either.

“That little bit of cushion is also gone,” Netherton said.

As word of the impending salon closure spread on Monday, phones were ringing off the hook as people scrambled to book appointments. Louise Mitchum, a second homeowner at Lake Junaluska, was thankful she could book a last minute color with her go-to stylist here in Haywood County. She hightailed it across the state Tuesday morning — a three-hour drive from her other home in Concord — to get in.

For Jennifer Milner at Elements Salon in Waynesville, she was equally thankful for the work. Milner was eager to cram as many appointments in as possible before the 5 p.m Wednesday shut down.

“I am a little nervous, but I am prepared. It is still a lot to take in,” Milner said. “I am going to try to stay active, and hike and cook.”

Rachel Lovelace, also a stylist at Abigail’s Salon, is facing a double whammy. She is expecting a baby this summer, and had been saving up in preparation to be out of work. She hopes salons will reopen in time to build up some money again before the baby comes.

“It is scary not to know when we will be back,” Lovelace said.

Her husband luckily works at Evergreen Packaging paper mill, which is still operating at full steam.

Luckily, when commerce eventually returns, people will need to get their haircut again.

“They will put us first in some instances, because we do make people feel better. We are very blessed in so many ways in this industry,” Netherton said.

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