Shop Local: Beauty and hair salons in Harlesden continue to struggle through Covid pandemic
- Credit: Archant
Hairdressers, barbers and beauty salon traders in Harlesden are encouraging customers to return as their businesses struggle through the pandemic.
As part of a new Shop Local campaign launched by this newspaper last week, the Brent & Kilburn Times spoke to businesses on Harlesden High Street and Park Parade.
Since July 4, although many businesses in have reopened, but three months on only the most loyal customers are returning.
Johnny Paraskevas has seen a 40 per cent drop in people dropping into Paraskevas Haircutters which he opened 37 years ago.
He received a £10,000 grant from the government at the beginning of lockdown in March but his landlord has offered no rent reductions on his £20,000 per year contract.
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Over the years he has seen families move away from the area and new ones move in, with his first 25 years in the business being his strongest.
“Harlesden was a very affluent area long ago,” he said.
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“In reference to Covid, after lockdown was lifted, we were extremely busy for about six weeks and after that extremely quiet.
“I think people in the immediate vicinity have either lost jobs or are fearful, so are not socialising so much, so it is not necessary to have their hair done or manicures or pay to use the sunbed. It has a knock-on effect.”
He has a “hard-core client bank” that he has had for many years, “but not enough to sustain the business.”
People are not walking in off the street and “if nothing changes, I’m going to rent the shop and go and live in Cyprus,” he said, returning every six weeks or so for booked appointments.
He added: “I thank my clients past and present for their support and I will endeavour to ride the tide.”
Trying her best to keep positive is Naina Parker, whose business Naina’s Beauty Salon moved from Harlesden High Street to nearby Design Works on the corner of Park Parade and Rucklidge Avenue three years ago.
When she moved, she took her 250 clients with her, but the pandemic has seen the numbers reduce and the threat that she may have to shut up shop altogether.
“It has not been a nice year,” said Naina. “I had a lot of clients and was doing good. I’m facing a lot of trouble now with Covid. It’s dropped 70pc. My husband helps me with the rent but he is a chef and is furloughed and might be made redundant.”
Brent Council gave Naina rent relief for the first three months.
She said clients are “slowly coming back”.
“During the lockdown, they learnt to do things themselves at home using products that are easily available. Because of the recession, nobody has money now to go to the salon.”
Naina’s prices are low - £3 to get eyebrows threaded, £5 for eyebrow tinting, and massages from £20.
“Christmas used to be a good time as it’s the party season, so people come to get their beauty done. I don’t think it will be that good a Christmas this year,” she added. “I’ve been waiting for Halloween but I don’t think it will be celebrated this year. February is good for Valentine’s.”
And if things don’t improve? “Maybe I will have to give up,” she said.
In an appeal to customers, Naina added: “You must try coming to the salons, not just my customers, but to all these similar businesses. People should be confident and go.”
Barber shop Faisal, near Willesden Junction station on Harlesden High Street, is experiencing a similar drop in clients.
The salon was established by fine artist Dr Faisal Abdu Allah in 1999.
“It’s not as busy as it used to be, especially at the weekend when people used to go out clubbing, or to parties. That has dramatically dropped,” said manager Craig Bennett.
“Initially when we opened, people couldn’t wait to get their hair cut but it has died down and getting slow again.
“We’re thinking of slashing prices but barbering has always been so cheap, what do you slash it down to?”
Craig, who has worked at Faisal’s for 20 years, added: “I’m still optimistic that things will turn around. We just need to be patient, keep doing the good things we are doing, stay in touch with customers.
“The customers who come in are happy that we are Covid-ready, we take their health really seriously.”