Editor’s note: This is part of an occasional series about how locally-owned, small businesses in the Longview area are faring — and in some cases surviving — in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite having portions of her business shut down for weeks during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, owner Lori Wilcox says when Fountain of Youth Salon and Spa was allowed to reopen its doors, she needed a vacation.
“I was working really hard the whole time. When we opened back up, everybody had had like a vacation, but I was exhausted because I had been doing everything I could to keep my business going,” said Wilcox, who opened the business on Judson Road in Longview in 2003.
Wilcox, who has been a cosmetologist for 30 years, said she has about 50 people working for her at Fountain of Youth Salon and Spa and at her second location, FOY Salon Suites, which offers hair styling, massages, facials, manicures, pedicures, makeup and waxing services.
Wilcox said she offered curbside pickup for products such as makeup and hair color mixes and even started making and selling cloth face masks.
“I know how to sew, so I brought my sewing machine up here and I was just sewing all day — believe it or not, it helped,” she said. "That was money coming in.”
During this time, Wilcox used social media to offer deals on gift cards to keep clients engaged. She also was looking ahead, and her planning paid off.
“Right when we shut down and I knew things were going to be different, I was thinking, 'OK, we’re going to run out of gloves, were going to run out of cleaning supplies. ... I ordered a bunch. I was just ordering stuff, and it all came in, and I’m so glad I was thinking ahead,” she said after learning of other salons that weren’t able to reopen because they didn’t have the supplies to meet sanitation guidelines.
To make sanitizing more efficient, Wilcox said employees removed all difficult-to-clean, non-essential items from the salon and into storage.
Wilcox said most of the stations at the salon already were 6 feet apart, so she did not have to eliminate any positions but did add partitions. An outside deck allows customers to wait outside rather than in the lobby.
As soon as her doors were allowed to reopen in May, Wilcox said she was flooded with calls, and business is back to normal. But she feels sorry for people who haven’t been in business as long.
“If you’ve done hair for 30 years, you have a large clientele. So I was fortunate to have a good base of people to help support my business,” she said. “I don’t know if I would have made it if I had a new business.”