BOZEMAN, Mont. – When the pandemic first hit it was hard to find toilet paper and hand sanitizer, but more than a year later you can now add haircuts to the list with personal care businesses struggling from a workers shortage.
Quinn's Barbershop Owner Quinlan Conley started his own barbershop in Livingston in June 2020 and has been busy ever since.
“When I started it was only two or three days out and now it’s up to seven so as it opens hour for hour it’s like filling up hour for hour seven days ahead," Conley said. "I ended up having to get a sign made that says by appointment only because sometimes I was turning away like 20-25 people a day.”
Besides a few other personal care businesses in Livingston, Conley's barbershop is one of the few east of Bozeman Pass and he was in competition with other barbershops in Bozeman trying to hire a new worker to keep up with the demand.
The Upper Cut barbershop in Bozeman choose not to do online appointments and instead puts up a whiteboard walk-up waitlist which usually opens around an hour before the barbershop and it takes no more than that hour before its filled up with three independent barbers working.
Upper Cut Barber Dalton Marcus estimates he has around 700 returning clients and sees new people every day especially with Montana State University students back in Bozeman.
VIP Barber Lounge Owner Kevin Moss said he is booked out one month in advance according to his online appointments and said he would love to bring on another barber to help out.
All haircut places agreed they are more worried about losing the social aspects of their shops if they can’t find more workers.
“It means it takes away from the community mind-ness and the community center of a barbershop, when it starts to feel exclusive, and I don’t want that," Conley said. "I’m trying to have a place where people like want to come and want to hangout and it’s really hard to do when I’m just one guy.” Conley said.
The shortage of workers can also be seen at salons as Canyon River Spa and Salon Owner Heather Ripplinger said they have a large waiting list and not enough staff to provide the services.
Ripplinger said as far as they know, they are the only salon and spa that has a $500 starting bonus; group health and dental plan, and paid vacations and still can’t get enough massage therapists or stylists for their demand.