KINGSTON, Pa. — The staff at Shakti Salon in Kingston say their work environment has gone through a lot of changes since the start of the pandemic, but the regular sanitizing and extra preparation between each client is something they have gotten used to.
"Completely," said Shakti Salon colorist Margaret DeFranco. "At first, it was awkward and strange to have all these things injected into your routine, but they've just become second nature, and I think could speak for everyone else that works here. It makes us feel safe, as well."
But it hasn't always been easy.
"Yeah, it's been really hard. I'm a hugger, even complete strangers, so it's been really difficult for me, but we, you know, we've established like this kind of hug and, you know, it's just so nice to see them again, and just, you can see the smile in their eyes," added DeFranco.
The salon's founder says if the current increase of COVID-19 cases in Luzerne County leads to another shutdown, Shakti will be ready to handle it.
"We're just planning as if that may happen. But in the meantime, we're just doing business as usual," explained salon president and founder Lonny McLaughlin. "We're super careful. We've talked about the statistics every day. We know about the COVID guidelines. We have a huddle every morning. We review the protocols for sanitation. We're doing the exact same thing we've been doing since June."
Staff at Shakti Salon say that this is their busy season, not only for services, but for gifts, too, and that's something that they've tried to make as safe as possible for their customers.
"We have a phone app where people can make the purchases over the phone. They can have their gift purchases prepared for them. They don't even have to come into the salon. They can come to the door, and some of them will drop it out to their car," explained McLaughlin.
Deb Smith-Mileski has been a customer of the salon for more than 30 years. She says she'll stand by Shakti's side no matter what.
"I trust their judgment. I've been with them for years, and I will certainly continue to come here. Whether we shut down or not, I'll be back. They're a good group of people, and I think you should all feel safe," said Mileski.