D.C. native Latosha Jackson-Martin wants the blunt sign she posted outside her father’s 50-year-old hair salon in Bloomingdale to remind residents that the neighborhood they see today isn’t the way it always was.
“Due to ‘gentrification’ and mixed emotions Jak and Company Hairdressers will be closing,” the sign reads.
Jackson-Martin’s father, William Jackson, opened Jak & Co. Hairdressers downtown 50 years ago, and moved it to now-trendy Bloomingdale in 1988. For much of its past quarter-century, the store has been surrounded by a laundromat, a uniform business and liquor stores with Plexiglass windows.
“I want people in the community to know, especially young people, that the community is filled with people who have and people who don’t have,” Jackson-Martin said. “I want people to know that we put up a fight to stay where we are, but we are in the ‘has not’ … I can’t afford to pay double the rent like the other folks.”
Jackson-Martin took over her father’s shop when he died five years ago and has been on a month-to-month lease with the property’s longtime owner, Demers Real Estate. She wouldn’t say what she pays in monthly rent, but noted that she pays about half of what newer establishments around her are charged.
Now, Jackson-Martin says the property owners want to charge market rate — an amount that Jak & Co. Hairdressers couldn’t pay. D.C. Landlord and Tenant Branch records indicate that an eviction receipt was processed in March. Jackson-Martin plans to vacate by the end of April and is selling and donating the salon’s equipment and helping its hairdressers — many of whom have been there for decades — find new jobs.
“At one point, we were the only business here, and now that the street is full, we get the eviction letter. It really hurts,” she said. “I’m trying to look at it as it’s just business at the end of the day, and it is just business.”
Demers Real Estate declined to comment.
Like many neighborhoods in D.C., Bloomingdale has changed dramatically in recent years. Throughout the District, young, wealthy residents have flooded in, and some of these trickled into the once-crime-troubled Bloomingdale neighborhood. New businesses have opened to serve these newcomers, which has attracted even more restaurants and establishments to the city.
Bloomingdale’s ZIP code, 20001, has gone from 6 percent white in 2000 to 33 percent white in 2010, according to Census data. On some of the neighborhood’s blocks, home prices have tripled during that period.
Some establishments, however, have been able to adapt in the changing neighborhood. When Windows Cafe & Market — a corner store in the heart the neighborhood — opened in 2001, it mostly sold beer and chips behind a Plexiglass window. Now the glass is long gone and the shelves are stocked with items like organic frozen pizzas, hummus and an extensive craft beer selection.
In July 2014, The Post’s Marc Fisher profiled the neighborhood, examining how new and old residents actually felt about the changes throughout the city. A poll accompanying the article found that 53 percent of black District residents thought gentrification in the city was mainly a bad thing, compared to just 13 percent of white residents.
Sara Fatell, owner of Grassroots Gourmet — a two-and-a-half-year-old bakery on the same block as Jak & Co. — says the salon’s longtime employees and customers often visit her shop for coffee or baked good with rollers on their heads while they are getting their hair done.
“It’s sad to see some of the older businesses go,” said Fatell. “We know them, it’s a community. … It’s good to have someone there before you to tell you how it’s been.”
Jackson-Martin says she and her family have no plans to relocate the salon — she briefly looked at properties along Georgia Avenue NW, but that was also too expensive — and is now figuring out how to honor her father’s legacy without his namesake salon. She said he was a generous man who contributed greatly to the Bloomingdale community, and she is working to see whether she can get a street named after him.
“Some good things must come to an end,” she said. “It served my dad’s purpose to feed his family and help the community as best he could.”