It’s late Wednesday afternoon and Dave Gramling is sitting alone in his Grain Valley barber shop, reading “The Life Teachings of Christ.”
While the popular barber is enjoying the book, he would rather be cutting hair, but his business has taken a noticeable nosedive because the threat of COVID-19 is keeping many of his patrons at home.
“This is what I deal with most of the day,” Gramling said, as he turned the page of his book.
After Gramling returned from lunch Wednesday, he had three customers awaiting their turn in the chair.
“I’m not worried,” said 63-year-old Steve Rinehart, a resident of Grain Valley. “If it’s my time, it’s my time – and I’m not talking about my time in Dave’s barber chair.”
“I’ve had two knee replacements, I’m an old man and I’m not going to let this virus keep me away from doing the things that are important to me.”
As Gramling finishes another customer, his son Kyle enters the shop with alarming news.
“Dad, they have shut down all non-essential businesses in Dallas,” Kyle said, with a touch of alarm in his voice. “Hope that doesn’t happen here.”
Gremling said, “They have already done that in Vegas with all the barber shops and salons. I’m sure it will happen here; I just hope it takes a while before they make that decision.”
Dave Gramling is Dave’s Barber Shop. It’s a one-chair business, and if Gramling isn’t there, the doors aren’t open.
“I’ve heard they might make some allowances for small businesses like this one,” Gremling said. “If we could get a grace period on rent or utilities, well, that would be nice.”
“I mean, this is all I have, and if they shut my doors I have no income.”
That’s the business side of Gramling talking. The family side is even more concerned as his daughter Gloria is getting married May 16 at Cornerstone Church in Blue Springs, and there are so many variables that go into that endeavor.
“We are lucky that Cornerstone has a streaming service, so if they still limit the number of people attending an event, we can livestream,” Gramling said. “This wedding is going to happen. The government can close my shop, and it can limit the number of people at an event, but my little girl is going to get married on May 16.”
“It may just be a little bit different than we had originally planned.”
Now, the business side of “Barber Dave” returns.
Many of Gramling’s frequent customers are retired men who take wildly different views of the virus.
“I had one ol’ boy come in the other day and he said it’s all a government coverup and they’re working with big pharma, and he thinks it’s a plot,” Gramling said, shaking his head.
“Then I have the regulars, who call and apologize because they don’t want to leave the house. I tell them, ‘Hey, it’s just a haircut. I’ll be here when this is all over.’”
He pauses for a moment, and adds, “Well, at least I hope I’ll be here. We’ve never dealt with anything like this, and we’ll just have to see what happens.”