School of Rock

School of Rock Elk Grove General Manager Matt Stone, left, and Nate Garcia, studio coordinator, hold a 2017 gold record award recognizing that local business as the 200th School of Rock location.

Old Town business owners and managers this week described the challenges of operating their reopened businesses following the COVID-19-related shutdowns.

While standing inside his business Old Town Fabrics, Muhammad Ali told the Citizen that his establishment has struggled since its reopening earlier this month.

“I would say I’m making 10 percent (of what he previously earned at his business),” he said. “That’s all. Today, the whole day, I didn’t have even one customer, no customers. And yesterday, the same story.”

Ali added that he believes that some people are not ready to shop inside stores that were closed as a result of the stay-at-home order issued by state and Sacramento County officials.

“It’s still in the position that people are still scared to go out and go to places,” he said.

Although other Old Town businesses reported better results in their returns, none of their owners or managers said they reached their previous level of revenues.

Dave Keen, owner of Dave’s Barbershop, described his business’s current status as “not great.”

“We’ve had to do the appointment system, instead of a walk-in,” he said. “So, we’re following the COVID-19 guidelines. Getting everybody to walk in to an appointment is a transition that we’re still currently working through.”

Keen estimated that he has lost 60% of his business income.

Katie Ackerson, owner of The Dollhouse hair salon, described the challenges this business has faced since its reopening on June 8.

“As hairstylists, we all used to work together full house,” she said. “So, we would have five hairstylists working in here, and now we’ve had to stagger our days. So, three hairstylists work three days a week. The other two work the other three days of the week, and then there’s one day off.

“We can’t have that many people in here at a time and we have to account for cleaning in between each client.”

Allan Veto, who operates Bob’s Club, noted that his business has also not reached the level it was experiencing prior to its shutdown.

“We reopened on June 15,” he said. “(Since then), business has been going fairly good. We’re lucky, but we’re not back by no means to what we were. It will come back. There are still people that I feel are apprehensive about what’s going on and they’re not going to come in, not until there’s a vaccine or some kind of cure or something for this thing.”

Veto referred to the number of people coming to his business as a “drizzle.”

“It’s a drizzle, but it’s a good drizzle,” he said. “We’re just glad to be open and to be seeing faces. All week, I’ve been calling it, ‘Old Home Week,’ because I’ve been gone for three months and before that I was in here every day for 20-some years. A lot of these people, I missed them.”

Janet Falcone, co-owner of Vintage Soul, a vintage and new home décor store, described her business as struggling, but surviving.

“We’re doing fairly well,” she said. “We’ve modified our hours, so we’re not up to our normal hours, and once a month we’re doing Facebook Live (shows), so people can buy things through Facebook. That’s helping our business a little. We’re struggling, but we’re still here.”

Dustin Thoong, restaurant/bar manager of Happy Garden restaurant, noted that business has tapered off a lot for this eatery and various other dining establishments since the initial excitement over their reopened dining rooms.

“We’ve been open for about six weeks,” he said. “Since all the restaurants have been allowed to open back up, I think business has kind of died down a lot. The first couple weeks, the businesses were busy.”

Thoong added that Happy Garden’s main concern is the health of its chefs.

“We only have a certain amount of chefs, and they are a lot older,” he said. “If they were to get sick, the business would be closed.”

Matt Stone, general manager of School of Rock Elk Grove, reported good news for that business.

“It’s been going really well,” he said. “We had a little bit of drop off during the work from home and lessons and rehearsals from home (period). But since we’ve been back (since June 1), things have been rolling really well. We’ve been really focusing on getting prepared for our end of season show this coming weekend at Bradley Ranch Winery.”

Christy Johnston, a hairstylist at Old Town Salon & Spa, said that she is fortunate to have had a fair amount of returning clients.

“I’m doing OK,” she said. “I’m pretty busy, but I still haven’t got any unemployment. (The salon) is not back to what it used to be. We have a really big salon, so (the social distancing) is a little bit easier for us. We really coordinate, like ‘Are you going to work or are you not?’ We don’t ever work next to each other.”