BUY LOCAL: Terrified beauty businesses are hurting
She stared at me, tears welling in her eyes.
I could see this woman was close to her breaking point and she and I both knew in the back of our minds the battle had only just begun.
Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, local businesses are taking a hit with fears this could be the straw that breaks the camels back.
After a long drawn out drought period weakened many regional businesses, experts are predicting the COVID-19 pandemic could push a lot of local businesses over the edge.
"I'm only receiving a quarter of the bookings I normally would," Sarah Shadforth, owner of Chris Cross Hair Studio in Kingaroy.
"On Monday I only had one hair cut walk in off the street and most of our bookings cancelled or postponed," she said.
"Our male customers don't seem to be as concerned but we are definitely feeling the strain loosing the majority of our female clients.
"Cut and colours are the bread and butter of a salon and without them it starts to get really hard to break even after the cost of your overheads."
Ms Shadforth urged customers who are healthy and not suffering with any immunocompromised conditions not to be so frightened.
"It's a very large salon space, we are seating everyone as far apart as we possibly can and we are being extremely diligent with our cleaning and sanitation.
"Everything is sprayed, wiped and sanitised down after every customer. All towels and capes are thrown straight into the wash after every single use.
"I've had to order in antibacterial solution and hand sanitiser from suppliers in Brisbane because we couldn't source any here in the South Burnett, but we've got it now and it's on every table for customers to use.
"Please, please just keep supporting our local businesses, we need you now more than ever."
Hair salons are not the only beauty industry suffering, with Sonja Boyes from Beauty Finesse saying they are currently 20 per cent down on their usual weekly takings.
"Unfortunately there's not a lot of money in beauty to begin with, but when we start to have a few weeks in a row where you're operating the way things have been, it all starts to get very scary.
"I have two staff members to think about and overheads like rent and electricity to pay and if things keep going like this we won't be breaking even, which terrifies me.
"I'm fairly certain the Queensland Government is going to be upping the ante next week and putting stricter regulations in place, everyday we are hearing different rules and recommendations.
Ms Boyes believes people have put too much time and money into stockpiling on months worth of supplies for themselves when they should be thinking about the long term effects COVID-19 might have on the wider community.
"Everyone's freaking out and buying several month's worth of toilet paper but they aren't thinking of how to protect the little businesses," she said.
"The reality is, if one of us goes down, we will all suffer - it's like a domino effect.
"A lot of people don't realise how small businesses all support one another, when one or two go down, you can bet the whole town will feel this in one way or another."
Ms Boyes and Ms Shadforth both agreed a great way to help keep local hair and beauty salons alive through the COVID-19 pandemic anf fallout period would be to purchase a gift voucher for yourself or a loved one.
"You typically have 6-12 months to use them and they make excellent birthday and mother's day gifts because it allows her to choose a treatment she really wants," Ms Boyes said.
"Don't buy beauty products online, if you can't physically come in just ring us up and let us know what you need, chances are we have the perfect product for you and you don't have to pay shipping and handling or wait several days for delivery.
"Wherever you can, remember to shop local and support a local business, otherwise a lot of us won't make it and that could prove to be a major downfall for the South Burnett economy."
Some food for though:
The very concerning part is no one knows what the next several weeks hold.
The Australian Government could very well follow in the footsteps of the UK and impose a complete shut down of non-essential stores, putting all of our local cafes, retailers and service providers into limbo as soon as Monday morning.
Landlords, if you're in the position to do so, please spare a thought for the local businesses that keep this town ticking and do something to give them a fighting chance over the next several weeks.
The retail stores that sell your children's school clothes, the cafes that provide a meeting place for locals of all ages and the beauty parlour that allows everyone to feel that extra bit special once in a while are all on the line here.
We need these businesses to come out the other side of this pandemic alive with enough fight left in them to keep on giving back to the local economy.
If we lose one or more of these businesses, the wider South Burnett community stands to lose a lot more than a cafe or a beauty parlour.
For the next several months I urge you all: think, shop and support local every single day.
It's the only way we're all going to get through this mess of a year together.