Survival as a new small business in a small town during COVID-19

ManKind Gentleman's Cuts, located on High Street in Waynesburg, faced trials though the state-mandated shutdowns

A walk down High Street, downtown Waynesburg, can reveal a candy store, a pizza place, several banks, a few clothing shops and a dance studio. This is only a small portion of what businesses reside in the borough. However, in Waynesburg, not all the businesses stay for very long.

Waynesburg used to be home to more. There used to be a movie theater, Four Horseman Comics and Gaming and Scotty’s Delight, a college student-friendly restaurant, that all disappeared. The local bar and grille, Hot Rod’s, is permanently closed after enduring heavy fire damages in 2018.

Four Horseman Comics and Gaming used to be on High Street before they closed in 2019. The space was eventually taken over by Heather Jeffries, Laura Johnson and Lydia Hobbs and turned into a rustic-themed barber shop, ManKind Gentleman’s Cuts.

On Feb. 26 2019, ManKind opened its doors to the public, offering services ranging from haircuts to straight-razor shaves.

“A lot of personal choices took over the inspiration of opening the shop. Life is unpredictable and owning a shop with two others has its advantages of having business partners you can count on. We do not always see eye to eye, but mostly we agree on a lot. We all have the same goals and taste in décor, so the opening and business plans were fairly easy,” one of the three co-owners of ManKind, Lydia Hobbs, said.

Two weeks after ManKind’s one-year anniversary, they were mandated to shut their doors by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf. The statewide “Stay-at-Home Order,” mandated on April 1, forced “non-life-sustaining” businesses to close to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, according to a gubernatorial press release.

According to data from John’s Hopkins University & Medicine, as of Nov. 9, there has been a total of 343 cases of COVID-19 in Greene County, with one death. There are 32,233 people residing in Greene County out of the 12,801,989 people in the state of Pennsylvania, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics, meaning that approximately 1.06% of people were infected with COVID-19 in the county since its arrival to the U.S.

“It was something we were not prepared for. We were predicting a fabulous year for our business,” Hobbs said.

Before the closing, they had experienced a “growth of clients” and had been able to add more services. After the governor’s orders, they had to use the business’ savings to stay afloat since no revenue was coming in through the shop.

“It’s not easy juggling our kids, family and making sure everything at the shop is covered,” Hobbs said. “The kids are mostly homeschooled, at the same time, we work to the best of our capabilities under these circumstances.”

As the restrictions are starting to lift and commerce is slowly returning to normal, ManKind is also starting their recovery as they enter the business’ second year.

“We are slowly getting caught up. We are licensed by the state and what they say goes. It always has been this way, but now we have [COVID-19] rules and regulations to abide,” Hobbs said.

While recovering businesses are relying on their own revenue to bounce back, there are funds available to help small businesses in the county. According to the Greene County Commissioners’ website, they released information regarding how to apply for the CARES Act, Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL).

For ManKind, a new small business in Waynesburg, they look to continue to grow and make up for the lost growth potential caused by the mandated lockdown and thrive in an area where business can be difficult.

“What keeps us going is our customers who have stayed with us throughout the year; good times and rough times, and we thank each one,” Hobbs said. “More interest in keeping business local here will invite more into our town.”