For anybody brief on a couple of bucks at A Little Off the High barbershop in Brunswick, Maine, it gained’t flip right into a furry scenario. Store proprietor Lynn Cressey’s bought you coated.
“I’ll work with you,” reads the sign up entrance of the Woolwich, Maine, native’s store.
In September, she added a observe to the signal beneath the hair and beard reduce costs. It mentioned: “If this creates a hardship for you, please let me know. Nobody will be turned away for lack of ability to pay.”
Cressey’s prospects, lots of whom she says are retired or navy, come from numerous conditions: they could be on mounted incomes, out of labor, disabled or just going by means of a tough patch.
“As I’m cutting somebody’s hair, I know by talking to a lot of them how much they’re struggling, and a lot of times I’ll just tell them there’s no charge,” Cressey, who opened A Little Off the High in February 2007, instructed USA TODAY.
She’s had prospects who’ve provided to pay the subsequent week.
“I know they’re going through a lot,” said Cressey, a mother of nine children, with 38 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
One customer with an upcoming job interview had raided his child’s piggy bank for $6 worth of change. He’d promised to give Cressey the remainder later.
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She cut his hair. Took his change. Opened her drawer.
“I took (money out) and said, ‘here – put this back in your kid’s piggy bank, the haircut’s on me, and here’s $10 for gas to get to the interview,” Cressey recalled. “He was so grateful.”
Giving back to a community that is ‘like family’
The hairstylist, who runs her shop solo, is no stranger to difficult times. A three-month shutdown during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 was tough, she said. At the same time, her husband, who died last January, was “extraordinarily” ill. The hairstylist used the time away from the business to care for him.
She’s a believer in people looking out for each other. It’s what her community, which she describes as “like family,” did for her.
“People would call just to check up on me,” Cressey said. “They sent cards, gave me a few donations and I was able to pay the rent at the shop.”
As she chats with customers between every snip of her shears, signs of hardships sometimes linger beneath the facade of an “I’m fine” in response to “how are you?” she said.
“Fine’ is not a real answer when really, you’re actually there struggling, and if you look closely enough, you can see it, you can sense it,” Cressey said. “Sometimes, even if they can pay, they just need a hug, they need to know that somebody’s out there that cares about them.”
‘They got me through, I want to return the favor’
Cressey’s generous gesture of discounted cuts went viral after a man visiting from Florida requested to take a photo of her sign.
She’d charged a lower rate than her standard price. “Sometimes I just feel like, ‘hey, you might need a break,’” Cressey said. “The heating oil costs have been out of sight, fuel costs and groceries have been excessive, so I decreased haircuts to $12.”
Not lengthy after, somebody known as the hairstylist to inform her the man’s photo obtained plenty of consideration on Reddit, the place the submit has gotten over 21,000 upvotes.
“That was a big surprise over the last few weeks, it’s been interesting,” mentioned the beneficiant barbershop proprietor, who’s additionally given free cuts and given donated wigs to ladies present process chemotherapy.
Whereas she is flattered by the eye her signal has obtained, the main target for Cressey stays on paying it ahead to a neighborhood that supported her in her time of want.
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“Everybody’s helped me get through these last few years – understanding when I had to close (my shop) to take care of my husband who was in hospice and dying, taking care of a daughter that had just had heart surgery,” Cressey said.
She says it’s hard not to be appreciative.
“It’s impossible to sit back and watch somebody struggling and not feel the need to help them,” Cressey mentioned. “They got me through, and I want to return the favor.”