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Coronavirus in Oklahoma: Oklahoman columnist recognizes some 'non-essential' businesses may be more essential than they seem

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Edmond hairstylists Jeff and Sarah Patton were cutting and coloring like crazy Wednesday, trying to serve as many customers as possible before a deadline of 11:59 p.m.

The co-owners of Twelve 06 Salon in Edmond had until just shy of midnight to finish any work before Gov. Kevin Stitt’s new restrictions on non-essential businesses took effect.

As soon as they heard the news Tuesday of the non-essential business closures, the Pattons began moving up appointments and newly booking others.

Under Stitt’s order, non-essential businesses must remain closed until April 16.

Buzzing away, Jeff Patton explained to 8-year-old Ben Allison and his older brother, Parker, that he was “going a little shorter on the top this time, to make sure their cuts will last beyond three weeks.”

For the Pattons, their business is very much essential.

“I hate being dictated to,” said Sarah Patton, who was trimming this columnist’s hair in the next chair over. “This is our livelihood; this is how we feed our children. There’s no Plan B or side hustle.”

The couple, 38 and 39, have been married 16 years; have two children, 15 and 11; and have owned their business for 10 years.

Debt-averse, they choose not to carry business or car loans, owe little on the mortgage of their home in north Edmond, and keep their expenses as low as possible. They only recently moved to their current, and third, location in Suite 172 at 100 N Broadway, to shave their overhead by $1,200 a month.

Considering the effect of the coronavirus on the local and global economies, their salon relocation was good timing, Jeff Patton said. But the couple still have plenty of expenses, including a $1,000 monthly premium they pay toward a high-deductible, catastrophic family health insurance policy.

The Pattons plan to spend the next weeks while their salon is closed teaching their children. Since the two-week Oklahoma teacher walkout two years ago, they’ve homeschooled their kids.

"We’re already three weeks ahead of the curriculum,” Sarah Patton said. “But they want to finish early, because their neighborhood friends are out of school.”

More businesses affected

Leaving Twelve 06 Salon, I ran other errands at businesses, that are essential for me anyhow, across Edmond, including dropping my sick vacuum at House of Vacuums, paying my plumber for a tub faucet leak he fixed last week, stocking up on essentials at The Edmond Wine Shop and stopping by the dry cleaners. Some retailers and service providers were unsure whether they’re “non-essential” or not.

Plumber Dennis Hubbard, who lives a few miles north of Edmond, said he has no plans to quit working. These days, Hubbard, 74, only handles repairs, but “to my customers, repairs are essential,” he said.

Bob March of the House of Vacuums said, “We’re at a weird spot, figuring out if we’re essential or non-essential. We keep people’s homes free of contaminants,” he said.

Because many families canceled spring break travel plans, his business has been up, March said. But Wednesday, there was a major slowdown. “I think many people are assuming we’re closed.”

“I can’t take unemployment; I’m still employed,” March said. “But I don’t know how long we can sustain the business without anything coming in.”

The only employees are March and his nephew, Tyler March.

Outside the wine shop, I met owner Vance Gregory, who — based on the criteria online at the Department of Homeland Security's website — considers his business, which includes food, agriculture and beverages, essential.

“However, I think people are presuming it is non-essential” and that’s why business is up 25% over this time last year," Gregory said. “People are scared and concerned that they won’t be able to get out.”

The general counsel at the Oklahoma Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission agrees with Gregory's take.

Tianna, the worker at Star Cleaners dry cleaning business at Bryant and Memorial, said she’s been told their business is essential. Business is down slightly, she said. But it might be just because of Spring Break, she said.

Related Photos
<strong>Parker Allison gets a just-in-time cut from stylist Jeff Patton, while Sarah Patton  checks the customer lineup for Twelve 06 Salon at 100 N Broadway in Edmond. [PAULA BURKES/THE OKLAHOMAN]</strong>

Parker Allison gets a just-in-time cut from stylist Jeff Patton, while Sarah Patton checks the customer lineup for Twelve 06 Salon at 100 N Broadway in Edmond. [PAULA BURKES/THE OKLAHOMAN]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-16f1c6e837ecef253fe948a24f0f3aec.jpg" alt="Photo - Parker Allison gets a just-in-time cut from stylist Jeff Patton, while Sarah Patton checks the customer lineup for Twelve 06 Salon at 100 N Broadway in Edmond. [PAULA BURKES/THE OKLAHOMAN] " title=" Parker Allison gets a just-in-time cut from stylist Jeff Patton, while Sarah Patton checks the customer lineup for Twelve 06 Salon at 100 N Broadway in Edmond. [PAULA BURKES/THE OKLAHOMAN] "><figcaption> Parker Allison gets a just-in-time cut from stylist Jeff Patton, while Sarah Patton checks the customer lineup for Twelve 06 Salon at 100 N Broadway in Edmond. [PAULA BURKES/THE OKLAHOMAN] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-1a55f5b9a3850d15037c516d72f44f79.jpg" alt="Photo - Bob March, owner of House of Vacuums at 1425 S Santa Fe in Edmond, isn't sure whether his business will be deemed "non-essential" under the state's coronavirus precautions. [PAULA BURKES/THE OKLAHOMAN] " title=" Bob March, owner of House of Vacuums at 1425 S Santa Fe in Edmond, isn't sure whether his business will be deemed "non-essential" under the state's coronavirus precautions. [PAULA BURKES/THE OKLAHOMAN] "><figcaption> Bob March, owner of House of Vacuums at 1425 S Santa Fe in Edmond, isn't sure whether his business will be deemed "non-essential" under the state's coronavirus precautions. [PAULA BURKES/THE OKLAHOMAN] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-82af2431dede52b444e308239b88017f.jpg" alt="Photo - Lacie Morgan, left, and her children, fifth-grader Paizley Morgan, 11, sixth-grader Sheckler Morgan, 12, and fourth-grader Journey Morgan hold signs as an Oakridge Elementary faculty caravan drives through their neighborhood around the Moore school, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] " title="Lacie Morgan, left, and her children, fifth-grader Paizley Morgan, 11, sixth-grader Sheckler Morgan, 12, and fourth-grader Journey Morgan hold signs as an Oakridge Elementary faculty caravan drives through their neighborhood around the Moore school, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption>Lacie Morgan, left, and her children, fifth-grader Paizley Morgan, 11, sixth-grader Sheckler Morgan, 12, and fourth-grader Journey Morgan hold signs as an Oakridge Elementary faculty caravan drives through their neighborhood around the Moore school, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-b4a213153291a9a982e9b03d2902ba48.jpg" alt="Photo - Families wave as an Oakridge Elementary faculty caravan drives through their neighborhood around the Moore school, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]" title="Families wave as an Oakridge Elementary faculty caravan drives through their neighborhood around the Moore school, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>Families wave as an Oakridge Elementary faculty caravan drives through their neighborhood around the Moore school, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-50d735cd06a9a4e6f1430a6d88f8aefb.jpg" alt="Photo - Families wave as an Oakridge Elementary faculty caravan drives through their neighborhood around the Moore school, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]" title="Families wave as an Oakridge Elementary faculty caravan drives through their neighborhood around the Moore school, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>Families wave as an Oakridge Elementary faculty caravan drives through their neighborhood around the Moore school, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-b337a06caf464d3d1800f35a8fa6ecb0.jpg" alt="Photo - Families wave as an Oakridge Elementary faculty caravan drives through their neighborhood around the Moore school, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]" title="Families wave as an Oakridge Elementary faculty caravan drives through their neighborhood around the Moore school, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>Families wave as an Oakridge Elementary faculty caravan drives through their neighborhood around the Moore school, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-a47dd92f7b197a7543bfaf149af07d21.jpg" alt="Photo - Families wave as an Oakridge Elementary faculty caravan drives through their neighborhood around the Moore school, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]" title="Families wave as an Oakridge Elementary faculty caravan drives through their neighborhood around the Moore school, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>Families wave as an Oakridge Elementary faculty caravan drives through their neighborhood around the Moore school, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-95a7b4b5fa7f7373030c8d026070a72c.jpg" alt="Photo - Families wave as an Oakridge Elementary faculty caravan drives through their neighborhood around the Moore school, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]" title="Families wave as an Oakridge Elementary faculty caravan drives through their neighborhood around the Moore school, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>Families wave as an Oakridge Elementary faculty caravan drives through their neighborhood around the Moore school, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-5211526f22948b0714e1d2a51c1b838c.jpg" alt="Photo - Families wave as an Oakridge Elementary faculty caravan drives through their neighborhood around the Moore school, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]" title="Families wave as an Oakridge Elementary faculty caravan drives through their neighborhood around the Moore school, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>Families wave as an Oakridge Elementary faculty caravan drives through their neighborhood around the Moore school, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-85b7586be4d800eb6ee68bc054f16cef.jpg" alt="Photo - Oakridge Elementary students first -grader Isaac Madden 6, left, fifth-grader Emma Madden, 11, third-grader Evan Madden, 8, along with their three-year-old brother Hudson Madden hold signs as an Oakridge Elementary faculty caravan drives through their neighborhood around the Moore school, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]" title="Oakridge Elementary students first -grader Isaac Madden 6, left, fifth-grader Emma Madden, 11, third-grader Evan Madden, 8, along with their three-year-old brother Hudson Madden hold signs as an Oakridge Elementary faculty caravan drives through their neighborhood around the Moore school, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>Oakridge Elementary students first -grader Isaac Madden 6, left, fifth-grader Emma Madden, 11, third-grader Evan Madden, 8, along with their three-year-old brother Hudson Madden hold signs as an Oakridge Elementary faculty caravan drives through their neighborhood around the Moore school, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-93f04a90d4550399c18be715df303f4d.jpg" alt="Photo - Vehicle line up at Oakridge Elementary before starting a faculty caravan through neighborhoods around the Moore school, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]" title="Vehicle line up at Oakridge Elementary before starting a faculty caravan through neighborhoods around the Moore school, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>Vehicle line up at Oakridge Elementary before starting a faculty caravan through neighborhoods around the Moore school, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-ee355cc3d8701f28e2f423b2c3148a4c.jpg" alt="Photo - Cars are decorated as they wait to start an Oakridge Elementary faculty caravan in neighborhood around the Moore school, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]" title="Cars are decorated as they wait to start an Oakridge Elementary faculty caravan in neighborhood around the Moore school, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>Cars are decorated as they wait to start an Oakridge Elementary faculty caravan in neighborhood around the Moore school, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-007d247df661b27ea9adc6f060beba98.jpg" alt="Photo - Families wave as an Oakridge Elementary faculty caravan drives through their neighborhood around the Moore school, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]" title="Families wave as an Oakridge Elementary faculty caravan drives through their neighborhood around the Moore school, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>Families wave as an Oakridge Elementary faculty caravan drives through their neighborhood around the Moore school, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-9f39f51696786d2c31091d86a4dace28.jpg" alt="Photo - Michelle Flipski, a kindergarten teacher assistant hands kindergarten teacher Lindsey Scott poster baord to decorate before an Oakridge Elementary faculty caravan through neighborhoods around the Moore school, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]" title="Michelle Flipski, a kindergarten teacher assistant hands kindergarten teacher Lindsey Scott poster baord to decorate before an Oakridge Elementary faculty caravan through neighborhoods around the Moore school, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>Michelle Flipski, a kindergarten teacher assistant hands kindergarten teacher Lindsey Scott poster baord to decorate before an Oakridge Elementary faculty caravan through neighborhoods around the Moore school, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-23eb9edf2c50e10b27299d32b792ea36.jpg" alt="Photo - Julie Rutledge, a secretary Oakridge Elementary, waits in a car before an Oakridge Elementary faculty caravan through neighborhoods around the Moore school, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]" title="Julie Rutledge, a secretary Oakridge Elementary, waits in a car before an Oakridge Elementary faculty caravan through neighborhoods around the Moore school, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>Julie Rutledge, a secretary Oakridge Elementary, waits in a car before an Oakridge Elementary faculty caravan through neighborhoods around the Moore school, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-648fad880c25a92b97e2d3ce6f7c446c.jpg" alt="Photo - Michelle Flipski, a kindergarten teacher assistant, gets in her car before starting an Oakridge Elementary faculty caravan through neighborhoods around the Moore school, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]" title="Michelle Flipski, a kindergarten teacher assistant, gets in her car before starting an Oakridge Elementary faculty caravan through neighborhoods around the Moore school, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>Michelle Flipski, a kindergarten teacher assistant, gets in her car before starting an Oakridge Elementary faculty caravan through neighborhoods around the Moore school, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-eb68d5d07605bb00aa45396f7eb357f2.jpg" alt="Photo - Noah Garvie, 6, an Oakridge Elementary kindergarten student, holds a sign as he waits for an Oakridge Elementary faculty caravan through neighborhoods around the Moore school, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]" title="Noah Garvie, 6, an Oakridge Elementary kindergarten student, holds a sign as he waits for an Oakridge Elementary faculty caravan through neighborhoods around the Moore school, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>Noah Garvie, 6, an Oakridge Elementary kindergarten student, holds a sign as he waits for an Oakridge Elementary faculty caravan through neighborhoods around the Moore school, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure>
Paula Burkes

Paula Burkes has nearly 40 years' experience writing and editing award-winning material, including since early 2001 with the business desk of The Oklahoman. After earning a journalism degree from Oklahoma State University in 1981, Paula wrote for... Read more ›

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