After more than 50 years in Queens, COVID could force master stylist into retirement

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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on salons and barbershops. It's an indication that other parts of the economy are struggling to fully recover from the pandemic.

"The business is down by 50 percent," said long-time Queens master stylist Michael Alick on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by Dime Community Bank.

Alick learned the craft from his father and began working as a master stylist in Manhattan in the 1970s. About 10 years later, he opened his own salon on Bell Boulevard in Bayside where he's worked ever since.

"I'm going to be fully retired after I worked 50 years in the industry," he lamented. "So, I've seen the good days and I've seen bad days, but COVID is the worst."

Michael Alick
Michael Alick learned the craft from his father and began working as a master stylist in Manhattan in the 1970s. Photo credit Facebook/Michael's Place Salon

Alick told WCBS 880 that people are not getting haircuts and coloring their hair professionally like they used to, because they're working remotely and dressing more casually even when they are in the office.

"Nobody's spending money, if they make the money, like they used to, such as like luxury, going out, go to the hairdresser, look good, dress up," he said.

The master stylist recently took up a chair twice a week at a salon in Greenwich, CT where he sees more young professionals than Bayside.

Michael Alick
Michael Alick recently took up a chair twice a week at a salon in Greenwich, CT. Photo credit Facebook/Michael's Place Salon

But, he keeps a chair at an Asian-owned salon in Bayside out of loyalty to the clients that have stayed with him through the pandemic.

"I have loyal clients from 10 to 30 years. They were loyal to me, so I work in Bayside two days just to take care of them," said Alick.

He credits his longevity in the industry to personal relationships.

See more on this story on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight video above.