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Customers rush to WNC barbers before they close shop because of coronavirus

Coronavirus barber shops
Many people rushed to local barbershops, which were set to close at 5 p.m. Wednesday because of the coronavirus outbreak. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

If you were among the regulars who rushed to the barber shop before it closed indefinitely, you sure cut it close.

"Get a haircut before the shutdown," customer Lee Whitaker declared at Mills River Barber Shop.

"Yeah, we're going to go about as short as we can go," Billy Brittain, another anxious client, said. "I don't know how long this is going to last. "

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On Tuesday and Wednesday, it was a race to barber pole position.

They just beat the cutoff time when shops that are as American as red, white and blue were forced to close indefinitely.

"I guess all this virus going around, I reckon," Mills River Barber Shop regular BJ Lyda said.

And just like that, coronavirus has put another industry on hold.

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Monday, Gov. Roy Cooper ordered barbers and stylists to close at 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 25.

"I guess you have to have such close contact is what they're worried about, you know," Mills River Barber Shop owner Jerry Frady said.

Phones have been ringing off the hook since the governor's order.

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"Yeah, we're here. We're here til 5 o'clock," a barber told a customer on the phone.

Frady said the governor's mandate was the next best thing to a short-term stimulus package for barbers.

"Because we've been really slow up until they made the announcement. Then we've been covered up with people ever since they made that announcement they were going to shut us down," Frady said.

Frady endorsed the closure for the sake of public health, but not without trepidation.

"Yeah, I'm kind of worried about it. I hope we don't have to stay shut down too long," he said.

Frady is confident the country will bounce back from the crisis.

"We'll come out fine, I think. It's just going to take a bit of time,” the barber said. “I think we've got a good country and good people here. So, I think everybody will stick together and get through it."

Loyal customers are willing to wait out the COVID-19 storm.

But in the meantime, things could get ugly.

"I might have to start shaving my head if it gets necessary," Brittain said.

"I mean, you really have to work hard to be this pretty," Whitaker added.

Before he closed shop, Frady enjoyed the moments before his unexpected time off. He looks forward to to the time the regulars return.

"He's the best hair cutter," Whitaker's grandson Carson said.

"Thank you, bud," Frady replied. "You like suckers pretty good, don't you?"

“Yeah!” Carson said.

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