Dallas salon owner Shelley Luther, who was jailed last year for reopening her shop amid a COVID-19 lockdown, has a message for small business owners struggling to make ends meet: “Open your doors.”
“You are not doing anything illegal. And we want the community to back you like the community backed me. And that’s the only reason I’m standing here today. I had the backing of the nation,” Luther told The Western Journal at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida.
Luther became a standard-bearer of the movement to reopen small businesses across America when she was jailed by a judge for reopening last spring.
The owner of Salon À la Mode, Luther had seen her shop temporarily closed for violating an executive order that prohibited continued operation of so-called “nonessential” businesses until later this month, according to CBS DFW.
Unwilling to see her family or those of her employees go without amid the ongoing national emergency, though, Luther opened up shop early, operating with enhanced cleaning procedures and social distancing protocols in order to keep much-needed cash flowing in a responsible manner.
Mounting pressure from local authorities, including a cease-and-desist order from Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, did not prevent Luther from keeping the lights on at Salon À la Mode.
In fact, the business owner eventually went viral for ripping up that order, to thunderous applause, at an “Open Texas” rally in front of Frisco City Hall on April 25.
Luther emphasized Friday that she is not forcing anyone to patronize her salon. Rather, she simply believes people ought to have the choice of whether to do so or not.
“For those people that are scared, I don’t want to belittle that. If you want to stay home, you’re more than welcome to. But we’re not forcing anyone to come in and get a haircut in our salon. We do love that people are coming to help our people feed their kids, which is — that’s what it’s really about, not a haircut. But people should stay home if they’re scared,” she said.
Still, Luther’s actions did not earn her any friends in the Texas court system, with Dallas County Judge Eric Moye demanding a public apology for her actions in exchange for leniency.
Luther refused, and was sentenced to seven days in jail, in addition to being hit with a $7,000 fine.
Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott eventually modified his stay-at-home order so that confinement was no longer part of the potential suite of punishments, and Luther was released less than two days after her sentencing.
So what does the salon owner believe is the best way to deal with government overreach amid the COVID pandemic?
“We don’t need to create more laws. We need to follow the Constitution. It’s already there,” she said Friday. “So the government does not have the right to do what they’re doing right now. So we need the courts to make this public and say, ‘Stop doing what you’re doing.’
“The government works for us. And right now it’s reversed. They think that they’re better than us and they do whatever they want and they need to realize that they are our employees, not the other way around.”
“Until these the courts decide that all of these mandates are unconstitutional and open everything back up, it’s going to be hard for [any small businesses] to survive.”
Despite insisting that she kept her business open so that her employees could put food on the table, Luther came under fire from those who accused her of contributing to COVID-19 deaths.
In her interview with The Western Journal, Luther fired back against what she sees as a double standard in how large businesses are treated compared to small businesses.
“There’s no way that is there’s no COVID in Home Depot, but there’s COVID in my salon,” she said.
“If you want to go out and about, you shouldn’t go one place and not the other because it may or may not have COVID. It just doesn’t make sense.”
And with countless small businesses ravaged by the pandemic and ensuing lockdowns, Luther has a message for the American people at large as well: “I would say for all of America, shop small business as much as you possibly can. So those businesses that are on the brink of failure, we can help them and build them back up.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.