Down at the Arcade: Kelham Barber’s Lawrence Wheen on the new norm for barbershops and small businesses

Burton Road’s small but perfectly formed independent hub is ready to return, sporting a fancy new look and a couple of fresh tenants. We spoke to owner Lawrence Wheen about what’s new at Kelham Arcade.

For those not yet in the know, tell us what Kelham Arcade is all about.
Kelham Arcade is a small hub for creative businesses; the idea is for each business to promote themselves and the other businesses around them. It’s kind of like a collective I guess, and we’re all about promoting creative and independent talent across a range of disciplines.

Tell us a bit about how the last few months have been from a business owner’s perspective?
Well, quite daunting to be honest. There have been a few lows as running a small business can be uncertain at the best of times. I’ve tried to take positives from a bad situation, worked on some new idea and repainted the building ready for reopening. I’m looking forward to getting going again now.

What sorts of procedures have been put in place leading towards reopening?
Obviously we will follow government guidelines in regards to social distancing. We’ve got custom floor stickers and signage made from FYI, a Sheffield-based design company just up the road from the Arcade. Small things help, so everything will be marked out, all communal areas will be properly sanitised, etc. You know, the new normal and all that.

With regards to Kelham Barber, what do the social distancing measures mean for haircuts?
There are a lot of changes in the barbershop. For example, clients will be advised not to show up until their appointment time. We’re quite lucky as our shop is quite spacious so we can have customers waiting spaced out at two metres if needs be. We can only offer haircuts now, which for us is a big hit to business as a large part of what we do is hot towel beard trims with a haircut. We won’t be able to wash hair either, and we will be wearing visors, gloves – the works. It’s definitely going to be very different.

On a brighter note, we hear there is a new tenant joining in July. What can you tell us about that?
Yeah we’ve had Billie from @glossnailsbybillie and her team join the Arcade. She’s the newest addition after Andy from Reyt Good Illustration. We’re all really excited to get back open and trading again. We’ve got some really talented strong business in the building and everyone is raring to go. The building has had a makeover, with a full paint job top to bottom, and also a new outdoor area at the back. We’re looking forward to getting back to it! We’ve got one vacant room upstairs so if anyone out there wants to join, just shoot us a message.

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