Local Business Update: Get a haircut!

I am sure we can debate for ages about who is suffering the most in this pandemic, but no doubt downtown’s barbers, who rely on us neighbors but also on office workers to keep their businesses going, are taking a huge hit. And time may be running out.

Ray Tahlov, who has had a shop in the neighborhood for 24 years (first on Chambers, and for the past nine years on Park Place) is down to six or seven customers a day — from 80 to 90 a day before the pandemic. I stopped in at lunchtime, when ordinarily he would have a line out the door and another eight or nine barbers working for him. This time it was achingly quiet, two long rows of gleaming chrome and leather chairs sitting empty while he and his wife Lilia waited. (“My husband and I, we are here all day, just sleeping,” said Lilia.)

“It’s horrible, horrible,” said Ray. “We can’t continue to pay our rent like this. We need people to come back to Tribeca.”

He has already closed his other three locations, which he opened just after 9/11. He’s hoping for another loan to come through, and more than that, hoping that people will start to come back this spring.

“If it comes back to 25 or 30 percent by May, I think we can be ok,” Ray said. “I hope we can be ok.”

Mike Babaev of Mike & Son on Church guesses that 60 to 70 percent of his business — which he’s run for 17 years — is gone. He and his son, Albert, also have Tribeca Hair Studio on Chambers. “We’ve got a mix of local and business, and a lot of people come here from Battery Park City,” Mike said. “But not any more.”

There’s also Gentleman’s Barber Spa, which opened in fall 2018, and while I didn’t get a chance to stop in, their chairs, spied through their corner spot on Church and Thomas, have been just as quiet.

Of course this does not even take into account our local salons, which have also suffered, nor does it adjust for the pandemic shag — an indication of our casual and relaxed obligation toward hygiene these days. That can’t be good for business either.

I did tell Mike that my husband needs to come by — he always looks sharp after a trip to the barber. And despite the economic mood, he was still able to turn on a little charm. “That’s true with men, they look better with a haircut,” Mike noted. “But women, they just look good naturally.”



  1. I wonder if it is legal to give haircuts in front of their shops, outside. I would do that. Now, my haircuts are infrequent and my next one isn’t scheduled until the vaccine’s second dose kicks in.

    I’ve seen hair on the pavement in Duane Park, so someone is doing this.

  2. Must say that Ray’s is pretty comfortable to go to during the pandemic. They have a huge, 2000 sq ft space with high ceilings and partitions everywhere.