'I have no income': Amid closures, self-employed nail salon worker calls for relief

Pam Black's chair at Mixx Salon remains empty amid the closure.

Amid business closures due to COVID-19, small business owners throughout Minnesota, especially those who are self-employed, are feeling the pinch.

For 33 years, Pam Black has made her living doing manicures and pedicures for a loyal list of customers, but now her nail table is empty.

"Basically, it’s tough with being shut down and not being able to work," said Black.

Mixx Salon in White Bear Lake where Black rents a space is one of the thousands of spas and salons closed by Governor Tim Walz last week to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Unlike bar and restaurant workers, Black says she doesn't qualify for unemployment benefits because she is self-employed.

“Devastating,” said Black. “I have no income. This is my income. I have no income coming in. I can't pay my rent. I spend my hours on hold trying to get them to defer payments for house payments, car payment, credit card payments."

The owners of the salon say the 14 stylists who rent chairs at Mixx are in the same boat as Black. They still have to pay rent, even though there are no customers coming in and it could last for weeks or months.

"I never imagined something like this happening,” she said. “It’s very sad and it’s hard to stay at home. I love going to work every day."

Even though Walz signed an executive order on Monday to give emergency loans to small businesses affected by the pandemic, Black says self-employed workers need economic relief they won't have to pay back.

"We are valuable small businesses for the state and we need help," said Black.

The Small Business Administration is also offering loans to businesses affected by the virus. Black says she could use it for her rent, but not to pay herself, so she still wouldn't have any income.