Winnipeg barber turns to 'yard cuts' to stay afloat amid restrictions

With new public health orders coming in Manitoba this weekend, some local businesses are getting creative to help stay afloat after months without seeing a paycheque.

Jeremy Regan, owner of Hunter and Gunn Barbershop on Broadway, told 680 CJOB his business has been closed for seven of the last 14 months as it continues to struggle with the ups and downs of the province’s COVID-19 restrictions.

“When we were asked to close and they said the date we could open, you get excited for it, you get excited for it … and then three days before you find out it’s not happening again,” said Regan.

“The muddled messages you’re getting from the province and public health don’t help either.”

When Regan heard outdoor gatherings would be allowed — but his shop would have to be closed  — he started offering “yard cuts” as a joke on social media — appointments where he comes to the customer and cuts their hair in their own backyard.

What started as a laugh has led to unexpected and overwhelming popularity. Regan says a conservative estimate is that he’s received over 1,000 requests from shaggy Manitobans desperate for a haircut.

The support, he said, comes just in time, as his wallet is looking pretty empty due to the closures.

“My mortgage needs to be paid this Friday, my car payment has to be paid on Friday,” he said.

“I’ve got two kids, a wife, a mother-in-law who lives with us, and they all rely on the business in order to get fed and have a life of somewhat quality.”

Read more:
Manitoba expands business grant program amid latest COVID-19 closures

The Downtown Winnipeg BIZ is among the voices calling for increased financial supports for local businesses.

“We understand Manitobans need social connection right now and we support some easing of
restrictions,” said BIZ CEO Kate Fenske.

“But keeping businesses closed for another two weeks while the majority have operated safely and responsibly without any additional financial support has a significant and widespread impact.”

Fenske said 50 businesses within the Downtown BIZ’s area have already closed during the pandemic, and she’s concerned about more going forward.

“Many people employed in the hospitality and service sectors remain out of work, and each closure impacts the future of our downtown.”

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