Suburban salon owner worried business might not survive second wave

Chicago News

CHICAGO — With businesses on the brink of re-opening, many still wonder if the damage has already been done.

Can reduced hours, fewer customers or more social distancing keep their companies afloat?

One suburban business says two months of closed doors is all they can take. Now that the owner is close to re-opening at the end of the week, something is still concerning.

The pandemic was bad for business, but a second wave, could sink her salon for good.

Chi Farley, 54, owns FlutterFab Boutique in Arlington Heights and said her customers are loyal and consistent. However, these days, they are still at home. Closing her doors during the pandemic has been financially and emotionally devastating.

Farley is a former flight attendant turned aesthetician who started with five eyelash extension clients in 2016 and ended the year with 80. After opening her own boutique in Arlington Heights, her business went up 40%.

When the stay-at-home orders were first announced, she thought it would pass and that they would be able to open in no time.
She has five employees and has had zero revenue for eight weeks. She never dreamt this is what owning her own business could look like.

Last week, she finally got some good news when the governor announced the state would soon be moving to Phase 3 of his Restore Illinois Illinois plan. That and her small business loan came through, as well, to help with her biggest expenses: rent, employee salaries and her retail merchandise — winter clothes she needs to get out of the store, still in the window from her pre-pandemic days.

But in the end, that good news is tempered by what haunts Farley the most now: the fear that this will all happen once more.

“If there’s a second wave, I would probably close my doors,” she said.

For now, FlutterFab Boutique presses on like so many other small businesses trying to survive. When it’s time to re-open at the end of the week, staff there will be wearing more PPE than ever before. They will take no more than 12 appointments a day to space out clients and respect social distancing guidelines. She’s only doing lashes these days and sadly, no hugs for her clients upon their return.

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