The barber of any street: NJ could allow shops on wheels
TRENTON — The latest pandemic-era business model advancing in the Legislature, at the urging of a Vineland business owner, is one allowing for mobile barbershops and hair salons.
State Sen. Mike Testa, R-Cumberland, said the proposal is “a common-sense, bipartisan bill that places New Jersey entrepreneurs and businesses back behind the wheels of their businesses.”
“These mobile services will open doors for new opportunities for hard-working professionals with ambitions to grow their business and serve more customers,” Testa said. “Given the popularity of food trucks and the renewed emphasis on convenience and safety during this pandemic, barber shops and hair salons on wheels makes absolute sense.”
The bill is also sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney, D-Gloucester.
“Mobile barbershops and cosmetology services will support jobs at the same time they deliver services that have been difficult to get during the coronavirus crisis,” Sweeney said. “We want these businesses to survive the shutdown and be prepared to thrive in the future.”
The idea for the bill was brought to Testa by Danny Bermudez, who operates the Dugout Barber Shop in Vineland and wants to expand to a mobile business but cannot under state law.
Under the proposed bill, a mobile facility would be required to have a minimum of 75 square feet of floor space, contain a restroom and meet other criteria, such as a permanent sign indicating the name of the shop on the trailer’s exterior.
Services would be provided when the facility is stationary, and state regulators would have to be given a 14-day location schedule at least two weeks ahead of time.
“Obviously, there will always be a demand for brick-and-mortar facilities, but mobile units will have their place bringing personal care to clients with busy schedules who appreciate the accessibility, as well as provide philanthropic opportunities for the business owners to our most vulnerable populations, such as serving the homeless and elderly who are unable to access a brick-and-mortar location,” Testa said.
Chrissy Buteas, representing the New Jersey Salon Coalition as the chief government affairs officer for the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, supported the bill.
“This is something that we think would be beneficial, especially during these times with COVID-19,” Buteas said.
The bill was amended to prohibit mobile facilities from setting up within 300 feet of a different state-licensed barbershop or hair salon, unless they are parked outside the home of a customer receiving services or are taking part in an event such as a municipal or county function.
The bill, S2996/A5019, was approved by the Senate Commerce Committee but isn’t listed for a quick vote at Thursday’s Senate session, pushing its next step off to at least late January. A companion bill in the Assembly hasn’t yet been taken up.
Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.