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Looking for ways to cut back

As money grows tighter, families are doing all they can to reduce expenses

Posted: March 4, 2009 2:10 a.m.
Updated: March 4, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Carnacion Carpio, employee at Valencia Car Wash, dries the inside of a car Tuesday morning.

 
Maria Mora said she only gets a car wash once a month and a manicure on “special, special” occasions.

Since her husband lost his job five months ago, she’s looked for “extra” ways to cut expenses, she said.

“For my kids, I told them I’m going to start trimming their hair,” said Mora, of Saugus, who used to spend $40 on haircuts for both boys. “Whatever things I don’t have to do, I cut.”

Mora waited for her once-a-month car wash Tuesday afternoon at the Valencia Auto Spa, where Chief Operating Officer Randy Cressall said the spa was experiencing a significant decrease in business — as are some other car washes around the Santa Clarita Valley.

“We’re seeing some pretty significant impact of people cutting back in using car washes, in the same way people cut back at nail salons and beauty salons and some with their gardeners — any way they can economize and stretch it out more,” said Cressall, who is also a past president of the Western Carwash Association.

“Part of the stretch-out is people washing their car less often, but there’s also a significant number of people washing their car at home.”

Managers of local beauty spas said some of their clients are stretching out their time between appointments.

Brian Whiteley, owner of Balance Point Spa in Canyon Country, said some people are not coming at all.

“The walk-ins or people who come once in a while, which you also need in this business — they’ve really cut back a lot,” Whiteley said.

He said he’s mostly worried about his employees who have had to search for a second job to make up for lost hours. The spa is trying various ways to keep revenue up, whether it is offering a $100 massage for $80 or renting out some space to other services.

The Novilo Salon & Spa took a hit in retail sales of hair products, said co-owner Nona Postchy.

Loyal customers are likely to keep their regular appointments, but periodic customers are extending their hair treatments a few extra weeks, Postchy said.

The Water Wheel Car Wash in Canyon Country is holding its own, said Alex Naber, whose parents own the business.

“People wash at their houses or every other time now or are having the kids wash it,” he said. “We’ve been here 27 years so we have our loyal customers ... they’re upholding us. We do a lot of fund-raisers in the city out here.”

Valencia Car Wash Manager Hamilton Rodriguez noticed a slowdown in customer traffic about three months ago.

The car wash still gets daily business, but when times are slow they try to stretch employee hours with side work.

“We just try to help each other,” Rodriguez said.

Cressal said car-wash locations haven’t been immune from layoffs either.

The decrease in business led the Valencia Auto Spa to cut its staff from about 55 to 38.

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