CHICAGO (CBS) — It was a big welcome back, as customers celebrated the reopening of Karol’s Barbershop in Kenilworth.
Barbershops and salons across the state were allowed to reopen on Friday, as the state moves into the next phase of reopening. Only Chicago is waiting to begin Phase 3, which will start Wednesday in the city.
Clients decorated the outside of Karol’s with balloons to celebrate the occasion as she welcomed her customers back for the first time since mid-March.
It’s not exactly the same, but people were happy to be back in the chair for a trim.
Like all barbershops and salons, customers and staff must wear face coverings, hand sanitizer must be made available, and shared surfaces must be disinfected after each use.
Karol Arkalyus has been running the barbershop for nearly 20 years. Her clients said they have missed The community rallied around Arkaylus while the shop was closed, donating to a GoFundMe effort to help her pay rent.
“She has that personal connection; she asks about family, and she remembers what you like and don’t like for your haircut, and she just, she makes it easy for everybody,” client Mike Fisher said. “She’s a special part of our lives more than she probably realizes.”
Fisher said he can’t imagine how difficult the past few months have been for small business owners like Arkalyus.
“My heart goes out to them. I think it’s been life-changing, and I hope we can all bounce and have better business as a result of it,” he said.
An Assyrian living in Iraq when her husband died while fighting in the war against Iran in the 1980s, Arkaylus was a single mother at the age of 21.
“As an Assyrian, we suffered a lot back home,” she told CBS 2 last year. “I apply for political asylum to stay here and save my son’s life here.”
After moving to the U.S., she learned a new trade in her new country. Along the way, she became an American citizen with the help of her clients, who would quiz her to prepare her for her citizenship exam.
She’s hung an American flag on the wall of her barbershop ever since passing that test.