On Friday, shopping complexes like Jefferson Square Shopping Center were noticeably empty, with many retail stores shut down after government officials are imposing stricter guidelines and directives.

Retail stores and hair stores were traditionally known as some of the many places filled with shoppers on Good Friday, who were looking for their Sunday’s best outfit, a new lace front wig and accessories to match.
On Friday, shopping complexes like Jefferson Square Shopping Center were noticeably empty, with many retail stores shut down after government officials are imposing stricter guidelines and directives.
What is usually a complex full of patrons going from store to store at the Jefferson Square Shopping Center is now looks like an abandoned shopping center with a parking lot of employee’s cars sporadically parked in the lot.
One store that has remained open is Beauty Plaza, a cosmetic and beauty supply store that carries a variety of hair care beauty products for the everyday consumer as well as for the hair salon professional.
With the recent directive from the Arkansas Health Department ordering barber and beauty shops to close in an attempt to reduce introduction of the coronavirus and to slow the spread of infection in the community, Beauty Plaza store owner, known as “Johnny,” said the directive has caused a domino effect with his business.
“Almost all businesses in Pine Bluff are being affected,” he said. “Even our customers. They may have the money but they aren’t trying to spend it because they are spending it on essential groceries and other things.”
Customers that are coming in to shop aren’t buying bundles of hair or wigs, “Johnny” said.
The store’s assistant manager, known as “David,” agrees saying hair sales are down but they are selling a lot of other essential items.
“Hair is down a lot. Some people do their own hair but a lot of people don’t,” he said. “We are selling a lot of shampoo, gloves, bandanas, scarves and pony tail holders to people who are making their own masks.”
“Johnny” says the safety and well-being of his employees and customers is his top priority.
He has implemented some store policies which include limiting the amount of customers inside the store to 10 and customers can no longer try on wigs.
“You don’t know who has the virus and we have to protect ourselves and the customer,” he said.
In addition to limiting customers, further measures for employees include:
• Increasing the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting all areas
• Sanitizing and washing of employee hands regularly
• Employees will wear masks and gloves
• Encourages employees to report any illnesses they are experiencing and to stay at home if they are sick
Though a sign at the entrance tells you only 10 people are allowed in the store at once, “David” said there is no need to control it because customers just aren’t coming in to shop.
“Wig sales are dead,” said “David.”
“They can’t try it on and we can’t take it back so they’re not going to buy a wig,” he said.
Due to the fast-moving nature of this situation and the uncertainty of impacts on costs and revenue, “Johnny” said he is just ready for what’s to come after the coronavirus.
“If this gets worse we may be ordered to shut down,” he said. “Nobody can guarantee it or when you can return to business after a shutdown order.”
With his store sales down almost 50-percent, “David” also worries they will eventually be ordered by the government to shut down.
Until then, “David” advises his customers to not come in crowds to the store. He also recommends that you purchase a bit more than usual to prevent frequent trips to and from the store.
“We always ask if you can, just stay home,” he said, “If you come, wear gloves and wear a mask.”