Nail salons across the city have closed in apparent protest of the state's crackdown on the industry, prompted by a May New York Times expose showing rampant racial and ethnic discrimination, exposure to toxic chemicals, and minimum wage violations. Details on the protest are scant at the moment, but for at least the past two days, salon managers and would-be customers have been reporting salons "on strike" from Staten Island to the Financial District, to Whitestone, Queens and Cobble Hill, Brooklyn.

Some salons' shuttered storefronts bear signs accusing politicians of taking advantage of the expose, doing little to help workers, and using protective laws as a way to bleed salons with fines.

The signs feature Uncle Sam demanding, "I Want Your Money" and a link to, an anonymously registered blog with several posts condemning the Times and the state's response. One post lists the following demands:

  • What we need now is guidance and support to get us into compliance, not harsh fines.
  • What we need now is government collaboration, not intimidation to shut us down.
  • What we need now is a reasonable time to cure, not time to force us into closure.
  • What we need now is a gradual and meaningful reform, not "raids" interrogations and excessive regulations that are so disruptive and inconsiderate to the nail salon industry and its consumers.

Earlier this month, Gov. Cuomo enacted a law requiring salons to purchase wage bonds as security for any unpaid wages. Salon owners have complained that the process is complicated, overly expensive, and that they are charged unevenly. A White House petition protesting the bill and calling for the feds to investigate the New York Department of State "for oppressing small business owners...[who] are mostly Asian minorities" has 1,750 signatures.

It's unclear how many salons are closed in protest, or how long they will remain that way. Frustrated customers, meanwhile, are using Twitter mostly to express confusion and anger about the shutdown.

Closures have also been reported along the length of Flatbush Avenue to Kings Plaza, where one is open.