El Dorado hair stylist among others ordered by the state to close business amid COVID-19

Arkansas News

EL DORADO, Ark. (03/25/20) — A hair salon in El Dorado is closing shop after the state made an announcement to close more businesses this week.

“We have a lot of titles we’re not just their hair stylist. It’s not just us standing behind our chair. It’s deeper than that,” Whittney Cook said.

Cook owns Whittney’s Beauty Bar on Newton Street. Her salon has been a therapeutic place for many men and women to relax and get their hair done but now it’s a place filled with empty chairs and no idea of what’s come.

“This isn’t just something I get up and do. It’s a lifestyle,” she said. It’s something I do to pay bills. This is my income.”

During a press conference Monday afternoon, Dr. Nate Smith with the Arkansas Department of Health ordered salons, barbershops and tattoo shops close their doors in response to the COVID-19 outbreak in Arkansas.

The order went into effect Wednesday in hopes that this too would minimize the possible spread of the virus.

Cook’s customers joined her in the uncertainty. She said her salon is more than just a place where hair is the focus.

“We have a lot of titles we’re not just their hair stylist. It’s not just us standing behind our chair. It’s deeper than that,” she said. “A lot of them need that time to release. It’s about them. It’s not even about us. I don’t know if we’re going to be down long but we’re definitely going to miss that.”

Cook understands the order but hopes this ends soon. She has three children and is now faced with a number of bills with no source of income.

Despite the hardship, as a business owner she felt compelled to ease the burdens of the other stylists that rent booths from her. She knows as a whole this is a challenge for everyone.

“I let them know don’t worry about paying rent,” she said. “It would be selfish of me to take money from them and they’re not having anything else to come in.”

Although she doesn’t know what the future holds, she smiles knowing that this won’t last forever.

“My hope is that we quickly get over this. I really do,” she said. “I hope that overnight they can say that all businesses open and not just for my city but for everyone.”

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