Coronavirus Updates

Barbers don’t qualify for unemployment benefits; how one is handling this crisis

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CHARLESTON, W.V. (WOWK) – It’s been three weeks since Governor Jim Justice ordered many businesses to close, in an effort to slow the virus’ spread.

One of those categories; hair and beauty salons.

A typical day at Tops Off barber shop, is filled with customers, smiles, and laughter.

But now, it’s empty; because of COVID-19.

“How do you fight something like a virus?” asks Scott Spencer, owner of Tops Off. “Something that lasts on a surface for three days to two weeks, that’s a monster.”

Spencer has owned Tops Off for ten years. Located on Hale Street, the shop used to be in the middle of the hustle and bustle of downtown.

“Now being here, located on Hale Street, everything has really gone to hell,” says Spencer. “It’s a ghost town. Traffic is slow, and there’s no cars, there’s no people.”

In addition to missing his customers, the financial aspect is weighing heavily on his mind; like many other small business owners.

“90% of hairdressers and barbers are self employed,” says Spencer. “They own their own shop or they’re independent contractors. So there are no unemployment benefits at this time. And there are so many small business owners that own multiple businesses. They are responsible for so much.”

So how is he staying positive during this time?

“A lot of people have been pulling together, praying that we get out of this… and we will,” says Spencer.

Finding ways to keep busy, while waiting until doors open again.

“I just can’t wait to get back out, and actually give someone a handshake and a hug,” says Spencer.

If you are a small business owner, you can check your qualification for federal benefits at ; and you can also try to apply for the SBA loan at

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