Clinton St. Barber Shop and Choo Choo Cuts have started a GoFundMe campaign and are offering hoodies and polo shirts for sale to raise funds. Hair salons and barber shops have been the hardest hit local small businesses.
The blog spoke to Sergey (Serge to all his customers) Isakov, owner of Clinton St. Barber Shop and Choo Choo Cuts.
Q. How have you been?
In general, I’m okay, grateful for health. But it’s very tough for the business obviously. The staff has been out of work almost two months. The business didn’t qualify for PPP (paycheck protection plan) because our barbers are self-employed. Most barbers and hairdressers are self-employed and “rent” their chairs in the shops.
Q. What do you foresee in the near future for your shops?
I paid rent in March and April, but maybe will pay half for May. For Clinton St., a big corporation owns the property and is not sure what they can do for us, maybe cut the rent in half or postpone payment of rent. For Choo Choo Cuts, they’re cutting rent 50%. The rent is very high on Montague St. and we were there just over a year and hadn’t built enough clientele yet. So we need to renegotiate the lease. To be honest, I’m not sure Choo Choo Cuts will stay in business. But Clinton St., I opened it 15 years ago, that’s my baby. I’ll do my best to keep it going.
Q. How do you foresee reopening?
Well, the prediction is we’ll be open sooner than later, but I don’t see it before October/November. Graduation season would have been busy for us but that’s not happening. Back-to-school time too, but we’ll have to see. Training a staff and getting them motivated is tough, and we’ll have to have a new way of working. We have 250 square feet at Clinton St. and if we need distance, we would have to remove one of the three chairs. If we have to cut a staff member because we lose a chair, maybe we can have them work on sterilizing everything after every customer. It will be tough, but we’ll get through it.
– – –
People who get their cuts at Clinton St. and Choo Choo Cuts know that Serge and his staff are some of the nicest people in our local service industry. Clinton St. is a true neighborhood institution, so representative of Brooklyn that it appears in the very first scene of the HBO series High Maintenance, a must-see if you haven’t yet. Let’s support them during this difficult time. Donate at this GoFundMe link and buy one of their nifty hoodies or polo shirts by calling (718) 797-1247 or (718) 797-1221. Serge will be at the Clinton St. shop this Sunday to distribute the hoodies and shirts.
All photos with permission and courtesy of Clinton Street Barber Shop on Instagram.