In recent months, the Salon 17 Beauty Bar in Selah was prospering. Since opening three years ago, the salon had added employees and an array of new services.
The salon’s owner, Megan Nagle, said her business was “extremely thriving and growing.”
Then came the order in March from Gov. Jay Inslee that forced all non-essential businesses across Washington to close their doors to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“A lot of emotions — I was sick, scared, worried, in a way,” said Nagle. “I have done hair for 19 years and I have never, ever, ever experienced anything like this.”
Businesses such as Nagle’s that have been designated as “non-essential” are not operating. While larger corporations are feeling the financial sting of the mandated closure, small businesses are often more severely impacted.
“I feel like a lot of small businesses probably won’t bounce back,” Nagle said. “I mean, think of the thousands and thousands of dollars that we’ve lost.”
Nagle and her co-workers have been out of work since mid-March. In a service-based industry, the closure has prevented them from earning their typical income.
“If we can’t go and do any services, we ain’t gettin’ no revenue,” Nagle said. “It’s just devastating.”
Another Selah salon owner shares similar sentiments. Katie Havens, a hairstylist since 2008, was excited to open her own business, Salon Lux. Her initial plan was to open its doors April 1.
That plan was derailed, and Havens is now also unable to provide services to customers.
“There’s no such thing as doing a 6-foot perimeter around your client with trying to do their hair,” Havens said.
While closed, both business owners have attempted to stay connected with customers. Both have been using Facebook to communicate with the public.
The community of Selah has also generated support for small businesses through the Selah Strong campaign. Operated by the Selah Downtown Association in partnership with the Selah School District, T-shirts and sweatshirts are being sold to residents as a fundraiser.
The proceeds from the shirts are used to purchase gift cards from Selah small businesses. Those gift cards are distributed to Selah residents in the medical field with the hope that some of the stress caused by their currently hectic work schedules can be alleviated.
“You get a shirt, a Selah business gets money, a hero gets a break,” reads a Facebook post from the Selah Downtown Association about the program.
The campaign has already raised more than $10,000. Due to increased interest, the fundraiser has been extended and will now close April 28.
Both Nagle and Havens are very grateful for the support that they, as small business owners, have received from the community.
“I think it’s incredible. Selah is such a great community and for them to raise money and buy gift certificates is incredible,” Nagle said.
Havens shares that sentiment.
“I hope that, when I open, I can just give back to the community as much as I can, with how much they have helped us,” she said.
She plans to open Salon Lux as soon as the restrictions are lifted.
“I will just be doing what I love — hair,” Havens said.
Meanwhile, Nagle also looks forward to reopening her business as soon as possible.
“I’m hoping that we will just start where we left off, still growing,” Nagle said.
Nagle believes that once she is allowed to reopen, her salon will eventually be able to recoup the lost revenue. However, she knows that doing so will involve adding hours to her work schedule.
The recovery of small businesses will be continuous, but Havens recognizes the importance of that type of establishment in a community such as Selah.
“That’s what makes up Selah,” Havens said. “Small businesses is what runs everything.”
• Natalie Keller is a freshman at Selah High School and is a member of the Yakima Herald-Republic's Unleashed program for teen journalists.