VENICE — Owners of the Partridge Barber Shop, located on the Venice Bypass, weren’t sure they’d be able to outlast the economic downturn due to the COVID-19 pandemic that closed their doors in March.
It happened at the height of the tourist season and they needed the revenue to last the slow summer months.
It wasn’t until they reopened May 11 that they saw any hope of the business surviving.
A customer of 23 years rolled up in his car on that Monday as the shop opened at 8 a.m. and handed co-owner Ryan Wilson an envelope.
Wilson wouldn’t disclose the amount, nor name of the donor, saying his client didn’t want the recognition.
But it was enough to pay the rent for a month.
That was enough to keep the shop open.
“He said he wanted to help out the shop,” Wilson said. “He said it probably made him feel even better than it did us receiving it. He said he could afford it — and wanted to help out.”
The same loyal customer popped in at Christmastime and gave each employee a $50 tip.
“It was amazing,” said Dana Wilson, wife of Ryan. “We all lost a lot of money. Even just getting the necessities was hard. We came together as a family, but it was scary there for a while. We went through our savings and had to start over. That tip was our little ‘start over.’”
“When we walked in that first Monday, we were overwhelmed with the love and support of our customers,” said co-owner Jenny Ernst, Ryan’s mother. “There was crying. We have missed everyone and are excited to be back up and running.”
Even Cosmo the Parrot, 23, who sits in a cage outside the shop greeting customers, was “very” missed, she said.
The shop was opened in 1958 by Ryan’s great-grandfather, Berkley “Buck” Partridge, and has remained in family hands ever since.
Over the years the customer base has remained steady, many from Bird Bay Village behind the plaza anchored by Winn Dixie Supermarket.
“We are so thrilled to get back to our community, friends and family,” said the Partridge family via Facebook. “Please remember we are all in this together, it will be a transition. Now, let’s cut some hair.”