OWOSSO, Mich. — The owner of a barber shop in Owosso is continuing to operate, despite receiving multiple citations for violating Governor Gretchen Whitmer's stay-at-home order. Karl Manke's shop has been open for eight days as of Monday, and he says he has no plans to stop cutting hair.
Protesters gathered outside of the store Saturday. Some were there to support the business, including members of the Michigan Militia and the Michigan Home Guard. Others were there to protest Manke's decision to stay open. They say his actions may provide a false sense of security for community members who see the shop's operation as an indicator that the coronavirus (COVID-19) is becoming less of an issue.
"I applied for unemployment and they denied me," said Manke. "They denied me twice for whatever reason. They just denied me, and then after that I didn't get my stimulus, and I decided I can't do this, you know? I'm living on credit cards. I can't do this. I have to work, and I have a business. I'm trained, and I decided this is what I'm going to do, and opened up my business."
Manke said the police department reached out to him explaining that the state of Michigan is asking him to close his doors.
"I said I'm not going to and that was the last I heard so I don't know," said Manke. "I mean, it wasn't a threat; it was just telling me that that was a statement."
Customers have been supporting Manke's decision to open his shop. One local resident said he waited two hours just to get his hair cut.
"Karl is awesome and I appreciate his work," said Skyler Lott. "I'll definitely be coming back here every time now."
Other customers traveled from Ann Arbor, Saginaw, Detroit, and Jackson to get their hair cut at Karl Manke's barbershop.
"I admire it," said Erik Gallant, a customer from Jackson. "I think it takes courage and I think more people should follow suit."
Manke said he still terrified of getting arrested for defying orders, but says he will continue to stay open until he catches up with his bills. He is scheduled to appear in court on June 6.
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