RONKONKOMA, New York -- Before the coronavirus pandemic, going to get your haircut was a normal task that people would do almost every day. Barbers and stylists always had clients coming in and out their doors to get a fresh cut.
It seemed like whenever you passed a barbershop there would always be customers that filled each chair waiting to get a cut.
During the shutdown, either New Yorkers had to cut their own hair or put their trust in significant others to do it for them while barbershops were closed.
However, for Long Island barber Mike Rizzo, three and a half months of not cutting hair took a toll on his finances as well as his clients who could not see him due to the CDC regulations maintaining social distancing.
While Rizzo was out of work, he decided to get creative and come up with a plan where he would be able to cut his client's hair while dealing with the "new normal" of maintaining a business in a coronavirus world.
"I didn't know how to make money to provide for my family, I kind of had a crazy idea," said Rizzo. "Let me start a barbershop in a bus and let me see if I can make that happen."
Now that the state of New York is currently in phase 4, most New Yorkers have gone back to their barbershops, but many are still not comfortable going into an establishment while New York is still trying to flatten the curve.
This is where Rizzo's Get Chopped Mobile Barber Bus comes in to play. Rizzo purchased a bus and decided to take his business on wheels giving people personal haircuts right in front of their homes.
The bus is fully equipped with everything he needs to provide a standard cut as well as a spacious interior for a family to be able to sit inside comfortably.
"The less people my children and myself are around the better," said customer Terriann Smith. "We've been really trying to be strict with masks, isolating things like that as best as we can, but at this point they need haircuts. This was a really good option without exposing to a lot of people."
As Rizzo rolled up to Terriann's house in Ronkonkoma, her and her two sons walked onto the bus, which is also air-conditioned and got their haircuts. While one son received his haircut first, the other was playing on a vintage arcade game.
Rizzo wanted to have this on his bus for everyone to enjoy while they wait for their turn. Along with the arcade game, Rizzo wanted to make the bus his own, so that anyone who walked in would feel safe as well as excited to be inside their very own shop for their appointment.
"I just want to stay safe and make sure that everyone is safe around me," said Rizzo. "I've been cutting hair for over 20 years, a lot of my clients are from the Ronkonkoma area, so I'm very grateful for that. They stuck by me through everything."
He currently takes appointments only in Suffolk County for now. Rizzo is excited for the future of his bus and hopes that he can show people what he has created and continue his livelihood of cutting hair.
"This is what I love to do and this is my passion," said Rizzo. "For me, if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life."
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