Montgomery County community rallies around barbershop struggling through closure

PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- When Sal Giannone walks into his empty barbershop, he sees 60 years of a family tradition slowly fading away.

"I know every morning when I wake up I'm about $600 in the hole. I know I have about $20,000 in overhead from my stores, and I know I haven't received a penny," said Giannone, the owner of Sal's Barber Shop.

As he sits in his grandfather's chair, however, he knows he has to stay resilient. With five locations and about 25 subcontractors working under him, he knows there's too much riding on him to give up just yet.

"Fourteen years ago I was homeless. I know what it's like to lose everything and I know what it's like to brush myself off and get back up on the horse," he said.

Last Friday, Governor Tom Wolf announced barbershops and salons are not part of the yellow phase of his reopening plan.

Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said, "It's impossible to practice social distancing" in this type of hands-on business.

Giannone says he has a couple of ideas about how he could make social distancing more possible in his shop. For one, he'd get rid of both the waiting area and the snack area and he'd have customers wait in their cars.

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"If I'm wearing a mask and the client is wearing a mask and we're both wearing gowns and gloves I don't see the risk as high as some other industries that are open right now," he said.

Still, Dr. Levine said the length of contact involved in a hair appointment puts people at risk.

For now, Giannone says he's more worried about his employees than himself.

In the last five years, he says he's raised a million dollars for different causes. Now the community is returning the favor. One customer's fundraiser has about $10,000 so far. Giannone says that money is going right to his help.

"I hate to think that in the world we live in we're not considered essential because my daughter is essential."


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