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Two Horses and Shaughnessy Cafe: How two Small, Local Businesses are Adapting to Survive COVID-19


Left: Two Horses via YELP Right: Shaughnessy Cafe via YELP

by Hope Cornell


This March, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many small businesses in Montreal have had to temporarily close their doors. They are struggling to figure out how they will be able to keep their doors open after these measures are no longer in place. Two Horses Montreal, a hair salon and tattoo parlour located near Beaubien metro station, and Shaughnessy Café, a hotspot for Dawson students, have both been affected, but have found ways to adapt and provide some of their services.


François, the owner of Shaughnessy Café, says, “There's no atmosphere, the café is closed so it’s like operating just the roasting and delivery aspect of the business. I can't wait for people to come back in and get back to the social aspect of a coffee shop.”


Two Horses Montreal has adapted to its closure by offering “colour kits” and “product kits” for its customers. “Colour kits” consist of tubes of grey coverage or your personalized colour, a biodegradable colour bowl, brush, gloves and instructions assembled for pick up or delivery for only $51! “Product kits” involves purchasing products that are available in the shop. The more products you buy the higher the discount, going up to 20%! The shop is offering commission on colour kits and products to its stylists, to help support them through this crisis.


They are also selling $100 gift certificates for the shop for only $80. With each gift card sold, they are donating $5 to La Rue Des Femmes. The Two Horses website for their online store just launched, and there you can find and buy all their merch. Customers can place orders by direct messaging Two Horses on Instagram or sending an email. At this time, they are only accepting e-transfers as payment. Tattoo artists who work in the shop are selling their artwork and prints on the Two Horses’ Instagram.


Izzy, owner of Two-Horses, noted that it was actually a client that suggested they sell hair kits: “So that clients don't have to start using chemical based box colour from the drug store.” She explained, “I thought it was a great idea. The last thing we need when we do reopen are a bunch of colour corrections. This way we can somewhat control what our clients are putting into their hair. Our supplier, Beauty Star, offered to start shipping our clients their hair products for free and the money goes to Two Horses. It's been a huge help!”


As for the tattoo aspect of the shop, the tattoo artists are working on some exciting poster sized collaborations that will be printed to sell. All the money will be going directly to the artists. I interviewed Karmen Menthol, a tattoo artist at the shop, who notes that one of the most difficult aspects of the closure has been how much she misses everything: “Tattooing, co-workers, clients, etc.” She is keeping in touch with her colleagues at Two-Horses on social media. “We've zoomed a couple times. It's hard, tough, it's not the same to communicate through a screen. But I miss them very much,” she says.


Shaughnessy Café has adapted to the situation by offering contactless delivery of coffee beans, home brewing gear and the shop’s merch (mugs, sweaters, tote bags, etc). Customers can place orders through Instagram direct message and delivered goods are left at the door. Orders are prepared at the café and delivered by François by mail or bike courier. Shaughnessy Café delivers three times a week all over Montreal, and even ships out to people all over Canada.


François explained that Shaughnessy Café’s roasting beans project and deliveries was already in the works before the pandemic. He noted that “Once our website is up and running it’ll be easier, but there haven't been many issues with online orders.” When asked what the future looks like for Shaughnessy as of right now, he says, “Time will tell, of course we will look to reopen gradually, ensuring safety of our staff and clients and we’ll keep the bean delivery going, following experts advice.”


You can help support these local businesses by following them on Instagram (@twohorses_mtl, @shaughnessycafe), sharing information about the services they are offering with friends and of course by placing orders with them! Both shops are extremely thankful for the support they have received so far, and hope that it continues so they can go back to serving customers in person once we get to the other side of COVID-19. We’re in this together!


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