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Hair Connection gets through pandemic

By CHUCK BALLARO - | Sep 9, 2020

From left, Helen Cole, Brenda Mamanis, owner Suki Packard, Christyann Waltz and Emily Uhde take a moment from their busy schedules for a photo op at the Hair Connection at the Weaver’s Corner Shopping Center.

news@breezenewspapers.com

It was bad enough when Winn Dixie and Fitness 1440 closed up at the Weaver’s Corner Shopping Plaza on the corner of Old 41 and Bayshore Road.

But when the pandemic hit in March many thought it could be the death knell for Hair Connection, located next to Crazy Deals. After all, it’s hard to socially distance when you’re cutting someone’s hair.

But with the help of new staff and the return of their old customers, the hair salon is back on track.

Hair Connection has been around for about 24 years and quickly earned the reputation as being one of the best places around to get your hair cut. In fact, it was named “Best of” in the North Fort Myers Neighbor for seven straight years.

However, the salon has had to deal with some serious challenges, such as the closure of the anchor store, Winn Dixie, last year.

“It had an impact on the business a little bit. It was convenient to have the store and our clients live in the area,” said hairstylist Emily Uhde. “But our clients are so committed to us they say it isn’t the store, but the shop that brought them here.”

On March 12, the pandemic forced the salon to close for more than two months. When it reopened on May 18, they were allowed to reopen at 25 percent capacity, allowing them just two chairs out of the nine in the house.

Uhde said as soon as it opened, they had a rush of people who needed to get in for service.

“We had so many people who needed service, we became really busy trying to keep things under control and within the guidelines of the CDC,” Uhde said. “It was difficult getting everyone on board, but we made it.”

It wasn’t.

Everyone had to wait in the car until staff came and got them before having their temperature taken. Everything had to be sanitized after every service and the floor swept and cleaned. It is a process they have continued as things have opened further.

Hair Connection is now 50 percent open, with meant for a busy Friday morning as nearly everyone was busy with customers. Everyone was masked, including customers, with one even adding a face shield.

Despite that, they are still not nearly where they should be. They are also concerned about the possibility of a second wave that could shut them down again.

Until then, they will offer full-service for all ages with $10 senior men and $12 senior women haircuts. They also have perms, highlights and color. Uhde said there isn’t much they can’t do.

They also use and sell hair products from Paul Mitchell, Matrix, Kenra and more. The staff is mostly new, with owner Suki Packard also serving as a stylist, with Uhde returning to Hair Connection after leaving years ago.

Currently, Hair Connection is open Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m, though they expect to change their hours in November to reopen on Mondays. They are at 1842 N. Tamiami Trail.

For more information or to make an appointment, call 997-1300 or visit their Facebook page.