I think we can all agree that the coronavirus pandemic has taught us all valuable life lessons. It has humbled us all and brought much needed perspective. Many of the things that bothered us before the pandemic, now seem so insignificant — perhaps even petty. That said, I have moments of ‘pettiness’ when I think: “OK — can I just get a freakin’ haircut?”
Richard Johnson is standing by, impatiently waiting for the corornavirus dust to settle. “It’s like groundhog day every day,” says the owner of Thunderbird Barbers. The Main Street barber shop was ordered to shut down March 15 because it was deemed “non-essential.” I can think of a few hundred shaggy-mopped people who beg to differ.
Richard, who has owned the barbershop for 18 years, says the hardest part is getting up in the morning and having nowhere to go. “My wife’s going to kick me out the house pretty soon,” he jokes. (Richard — your wife called. It’s not a joke). Richard’s not the only barber at Thunderbird with clipped wings. Sheri Garczynski rents one of the four chairs at the barber shop. While Sherry misses her paycheck, it’s not the only void. “You miss your customers because they are also friends.”
Richard and Sheri say they already have clients calling to make appointments as soon as they reopen. But re-opening in the age of coronavirus raises questions about things we used to take for granted. How can you practice responsible social distancing while at the same time giving someone a haircut? “I will wear a mask and gloves. We’re really careful about wiping down,” says Richard. “We have strict sanitation standards.”
OK — that covers the barbers/stylists. But what about customers? How can you get your hair cut/styled while wearing a mask? It is one of the many contradictions in our new lives. We can speculate now, but we probably won’t know the answers until early May, the time when Richard expects to once again open his doors.
With their backlog of clients, both Richard and Sheri believe business will take off as soon as they are allowed to open the doors. Speaking of those with “shaggy mops”, all who have made reservations at Thunderbird Barbers will have to stand behind Richard’s two-year old girl, Winnie. First in line will be his precocious, shaggy mopped Labradoodle! Make sure you check out the photos to see Winnie ready for some action.
Richard and Sherri love serving downtown Louisville and feel fortunate to have such great customers. Their message to the community: “Stay strong. Have faith. We’ll come back. Once we get through this, we will have learned a lot. People will appreciate their jobs and each other.”
Like all barber shops and hair styling salons, Thunderbird has many mirrors. Observing Richard and Sheri in the shop makes you realize the many mirrors of emotions of the coronavirus era. Seeing the faces of Richard and Sheri make you realize that the emotions reflected are not just theirs. They’re yours.
When they re-open, please support Thunderbird Barbers and all small town businesses. They need us. More importantly, we NEED them.
901 Walnut St.