Tonique’s Trilogy delayed opening its new location at 725 Fairmont Road in Westover because of the virus. Now the second location allows for plenty of distance between stylists.

Little by little, Morgantown is testing the new normal. Here’s how it’s going.

This long, cold, socially distant spring reminded us all: We love our services. As salons, gyms, and other businesses are opening up, Morgantown is turning out for some much-missed pampering of many kinds.

It was a quick start for Heiskell Automotive on Canyon Road near Cheat Lake, which opened on May 4. “We were busy right away. I mean literally,” says co-owner Skip Heiskell. The garage was busy enough immediately with customers who had urgent car needs that they didn’t even announce they’d re-opened until late on 5th. “I’d say we’re already 90 percent as busy as we were one year ago today.” 

Heiskell prefers for customers to leave their cars, drop their keys in the drop box, and pay for their service by phone. Mechanics wipe everything down when they’re done with a car for a clean pick-up. When customers do need to go into the office, Heiskell says, he doesn’t require them to wear masks, but he’s marked six feet from the desk on the floor as a signal to keep some distance. “The biggest thing is the lack of contact,” he says. “I’m a big handshaker, and I’m trying to restrict that.”

Tonique’s Trilogy opened on May 4, too, to a similar customer onrush. “We are so busy. It’s crazy. All of my stylists are booked,” says salon owner Beth Clark.

Customers check in by phone when they arrive, wait in their cars, and get calls when their stylists are ready. It’s a more intimate business than car work, and Tonique’s is requiring masks. “I have high-risk stylists and high-risk clients, so it’s the right thing to do,” Clark says. Stylists aren’t double-booking the way they usually do when they color a client’s hair, so it’s one stylist, one client all day long.

Clark is scheduling only half of her stations in order to maintain six feet of distance, and in this she has a lucky advantage: A new second site on Fairmont Road in Westover that she’d planned to open on April 1. She’s able to book five stylists in each location with plenty of distance between them. 

She’s energized. “It feels great to be able to do what I love doing, being back behind the chair and seeing clients,” she says. “And I think people are happy to have a human touch again, something they haven’t had much of in seven weeks.” 

Those weeks have left some families very ready for day care, too. Morgantown Early Learning Facility opened on May 11. 

Staff at all day care facilities had to be tested for COVID-19 before they were cleared to work, says Director Sarah Graham. Morgantown ELF staff are temperature-tested every morning when they arrive, and they wear masks during the work day. Daytime routines include more sanitizing and hand-washing than usual. 

As for the families, parents are welcomed in only as far as the lobby. “And the kids are really great about social distancing, so mom and dad must have done a good job,” Graham laughs. 

But if distancing is a lot to expect of a child, masks are a lot more still. “In all honesty, there’s not really a good way to keep a mask on a child,” Graham says. “So we talked with the state about it, and we’re not requiring them to wear masks.” Children’s temperatures are taken in the mornings when they arrive, and staff are extra alert through the day to any signs of illness.

Every family has to balance its own needs and risks, of course. “For the first week, about a quarter of our kids came back,” Graham says. “We’re gaining some traction. I think we got five or six more this second week, and we’re getting five or six more next week. But we’re just excited to see our families again. We know these are hard choices for families.” She looks forward to a new normal, and says there are slots available for the summer session for families that need them.

posted on May 20, 2020

photographed by Kayse Ellis

Please follow and like us:
Pam Kasey
Written by Pam Kasey
Pam Kasey has traveled, brewed, farmed, counseled, and renovated, but most loves to write. She has degrees in economics from the University of Chicago and in journalism from West Virginia University. She loves celebrating Morgantown and West Virginia as executive editor at New South Media.