Indianapolis salon owners tearing hair out over closure order

(Image courtesy of DL Lowry Hairspa Boutique)

David Lowry has owned DL Lowry Hairspa Boutique in Indianapolis for 25 years, but he says that’s about to come to an end if he doesn’t get his shop open soon.

“We have to start generating some revenue or we won’t have any door to open,” Lowry told IBJ on Friday.

A petition started by Rita Stevens, owner of DeWeese Design Salon, asking Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett to allow hair salons to reopen has received more than 6,000 signatures in six days.

Lowry’s name was on the petition. Maintaining the closure order is unfair, he said.

“A dentist can open his office, stand over you and put his fingers in your mouth, yet hair salons can’t open. And the fact that hair salons in other counties can open makes it that much worse,” he said.

Lowry’s salon is at particular risk during this extended closure due to the coronavirus pandemic. His shop at 1300 E. 86th St. is just over a mile from Hamilton County, where salons are now open.

David Lowry

“Fifty percent of my clients are from Hamilton County, so of course I’m losing business to Hamilton County salons,” Lowry said. “We’ve been closed almost 10 weeks, and people can’t wait any longer to get their hair done. We’re being financially destroyed.”

As of now, an order from the Marion County Public Health Department—and supported by Hogsett—mandates that salons remain closed at least through June 1. But some salon owners are fearful the mandated closure will be extended and they’ll lose business to salons in adjacent counties.

“I’m opening June 1. I don’t care what the mayor says,” Lowry said. “We have 44 employees at this salon, and they’re all hurting financially. We’ve lost hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Taylor Schaffer, deputy chief of staff for Hogsett, said the nearly 9,000 cases of COVID-19 and more than 500 deaths in the city clearly indicate that Indianapolis faces challenges not affecting other parts of the state.

“From the beginning, Mayor Hogsett has fully supported the efforts of Dr. Virginia Caine and the Marion County Public Health Department to craft policies in Indianapolis that will protect our residents while allowing our economy to reopen as quickly as is safe,” Schaffer said in a statement to IBJ. “We remain hopeful that at next week’s public health briefing, Dr. Caine will be able to provide more clarity on what restrictions may be lifted beginning June 1.”

Lowry said he has planned many safety precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. His staff will work split shifts with half working in the morning and early afternoon and half working the late afternoon and evening shift.

Lowry will require all of his employees and customers to wear face masks. There will be no walk-ins, and customers will be required to stay in their cars until it’s time for their appointments. He’s also beefed up his salon’s cleaning regimen.

Stevens is taking those same precautions at her salon at 8250 Rockville Road—just a mile from the Hendricks County line.

“We are so much cleaner and are taking many more precautions than a lot of places that have been open this whole time,” Stevens told IBJ. “You can go into a grocery store or a department store and pick up a hundred things and put them back down. And people are all touching the same things. It’s not that way in my salon.”

“I’m definitely a rule follower,” she added. “I’m on board with doing what needs to be done to be safe. But what the mayor is doing makes no sense.”

Lowry and Stevens said they both got federal money from the Paycheck Protection Program, but it’s either gone or almost gone.

Rita Stevens
Rita Stevens

“I’ve been able to pay my bills for now, but my bank account is going to be zero,” said Stevens, who has owned her salon for 15 years. “A lot of our clients are loyal, so they’re trying to wait. But they can’t wait forever, and with Hendricks County so close, they have lots of options. This is absolutely killing our business.”

Stevens said being closed heading into the Memorial Day weekend is especially painful.

“Holiday weeks are big, big weeks for my salon,” Stevens said. “So the mayor’s decision to keep us closed is really hurting us financially.”

Sarah Foster-Adesokan, owner of Hair to the Throne at 1157 Arlington Ave., is willing to give the Hogsett the benefit of the doubt.

“My salon business is hurting like everyone else’s, but maybe the mayor can see something we don’t,” she said. “I’m taking this time as a way to prepare my shop even more. But I do understand the frustration of Indianapolis salon owners. This whole thing has been terribly disheartening.”

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26 thoughts on “Indianapolis salon owners tearing hair out over closure order

    1. Another Democrat Mayor!!! Go figure!!
      This is crazy. The politicians and people making the rules are still getting paid. They do NOT care!!

  1. It looks like Hogsett has received a haircut since Marion County’s salons closed in mid-March. So, he’s not even abiding by his own rules.
    It’d be interesting to see what percent of the recent customers to the salons and restaurants in surrounding counties would normally frequent one in Marion County.

    1. His wife likely cut it. Criticism is so easy and makes the critics feel so empowered. Maybe try to help a neighbor rather than casting stones.

    2. Martin W. – If his wife cut it, don’t you think he would have used that to his political advantage by posting something through the media or at least talked about it in one of his speeches?

  2. Don’t you understand that restaurants and salons in Indy transmit viruses differently than all over the rest of the country? I think your doors and tables are made of different materials, and your air is different, or something like that. Anyway, you might want to remember this the next time there’s an election.

    1. Of the 500 that died, please advise the following
      1 co-morbidity issue? Heart attack, diabetes, COPD, obesity, smoker, drugs, stroke….
      2 age – 80+, 70/80, 60/70, 50/60, under 50
      3 resident of nursing home?
      4 how many died of just covid 19?

      There has been a lot of cooking the books on the # of deaths.

  3. Mr Mayor, let these hard working business owners open, now. Maybe you don’t understand what it means to own a small business Mr Mayor. You might want to get informed before your policies do more harm than good.

  4. I live in Hendricks Co., work in Marion Co., and get my hair cut in Hamilton Co. After two months, I finally got my hair cut on Monday. There were two new stylists in the salon, and I asked about them. They normally rent booth space in Marion Co., but are temporarily renting booth space at this salon in Hamilton Co. so they can see their clients until the order is lifted. It makes no sense to have a policy that is different than all of the surrounding counties. Our local county lines are just artificial boundaries – they don’t denote where one place is safe and another is not. We all normally cross these boundaries without thought almost every day. People will just go to where they can get what they need.

    1. I feel sorry for the salons that cannot open until June 1…I’m patiently waiting. I do work with a lady who has been having her hair done since March. She has been going weekly since the shutdown, but unfortunately, I don’t know the name of the barber in Indianapolis that she goes to.

  5. Illinois customers are pouring across the border heading for Indiana businesses. My cousin in Terre Haute said the parking lots are filled with Illinois plates. People from Illinois coming to Indiana for Hair Cuts!

  6. I’m still waiting for someone to explain to me why we need more protection in hair salons than in other places like say a gym? It seems extremely unfair to target them especially when theirs not that many people inside to begin with. Why have some places like hardware stores that were allowed to have 300 people in them like the one I go to, but a small hair salon cannot be open! The hardware store is somehow safer?

  7. I own 2 restaurants in Marion County and we are opening for 50% indoor dining on June 1st with or without the mayor’s approval! I know several other owners who have expressed the same sentiment. If all businesses do it there is little to nothing he can do about it.

    1. Good for you! How can you take away the right to work to support your family and employees? It’s not constitutional!!!! This guy is a true Democrat and not taking care of the overall community at large. People need to work Mr. Hogsett, of course, you’re still getting paid. Democrats need to go!

  8. Just another Democrat that’s empowered to ruin a small business. Everyone needs to think about who they are electing. Too bad Nora and the crossing can’t be annexed into Hamilton County. 46240 This man is not a business person. He doesn’t get it.

  9. He’s a Democrat. That’s the problem -control. He is ill-suited for the position and in way over his lib head.

    If Elon Musk can open in CA and defy the lockdown, why can’t Lowry. I feel so sorry for every business and their employees during this. It’s so unfair to deny people their livelihoods. This virus will be around for a while, and life must go on. And, I don’t anticipate the “new normal” for long, as I’m “elderly) but intend to live my life responsibly. TRUMP/PENCE 2020!

  10. Remember what Hogsett did when it comes election time. He hasn’t did anything positive for Marion County, he has always concentrated on making Indianapolis a sanctuary city, taking care of the homeless and panhandlers. Downtown is the dirtiest, most disgusting place because of the homeless and panhandlers. If a tax paying citizen was laying on the sidewalks or panhandling they would be charged with loitering and maintaining a commons nuisance. Joe Hogsett is useless. REMEMBER AT ELECTION TIME

  11. Time to get back to business. Every business should have an equal opportunity to thrive and be successful. Every business is essential.
    Until every business is open, Hogsett and every government employee should not get paid. These people in government are so out of touch it’s a joke. We did what was asked. We “slowed the spread”. And now it’s time to stop changing the rules and moving goalposts.

  12. The partisan comments are the most disheartening. This is a crisis. Marion County is a crisis zone. The mayor must make difficult decisions but the health and welfare of the general population is paramount. Government employees are not the only ones being paid. And one should note that each congressperson is being paid on both sides of the aisle. I read and understand the frustration, but sophomoric name calling and party bashing is useless and broad generalizations such as “typical Dem” or “typical Repub” are not only wrong but repugnant. Guideline do change if conditions do not improve.

    1. If the shoe fits…… This randomized “you can but you can’t” approach is partisan and dangerous.

    2. You are correct this is not a partisan issue. Regardless of party affiliation, Hogsett has proven to be an inadequate leader who is in over his head.

      His lack of communication with the business community and the populace is a real problem, regardless of his politics.

      Now it is time for him to admit he has been overly cautious and move ahead as quickly as possible like other actual leaders are doing. He won’t do it because he cannot admit a mistake and because he doesn’t know what to do. He must be waiting to see what his party leaders are suggesting rather than looking at the situation himself.

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