ANC 5B04 Commissioner-elect Joe Barrios
has been quietly working for months with Mr. Duane Johnson, owner of longtime Brookland business M&S Barber Services, in trying to keep this great neighborhood business here. In a letter sent recently to constituents, Barrios stated:
“…After 19 years in our community, the M&S Barber Shop (12th and Girard) is seeking to relocate. A new owner has purchased the property at 2900 12th Street NE to redevelop it and has chosen not to extend the barber shop’s lease. That means Mr. Duane Johnson, the owner, must vacate by the end of February 2015…I would like to enlist Brookland’s help in finding a new space that is affordable for a barber shop and as close as possible to 12th and Girard.
M&S moving is a grievous loss to our community. Many of us frequent the barber shop and know that it serves a much greater role than just a place to get our hair cut. Mr. Johnson has long been the eyes and ears of 12th and Girard, has helped spearhead the recent increased police presence in Brookland, and has worked with MPD countless times to solve crimes. He provides help and support to many seniors in our community. He also serves as a badly needed role model and advisor to many of Brookland’s youth.
He has welcomed change and new residents in Brookland with open arms because of the improvement it has brought to the neighborhood. Now that this change threatens to displace him I feel it is our duty to do everything possible to assist him…If anyone has word of commercial space that is available or may soon be available…please reach out to me as soon as possible. He is willing to sublet and/or share space if needed.”
We reached out to Mr. Johnson for a statement, and this is what he had to say:
“I’ve witnessed the many positive changes in the Brookland community, from a crime riddled section of NE to a community that displays vibrant and positive hope for professional people of all colors and creed and new businesses..and to the redevelopment Mecca which it has become.
I arrived in this community in spring 1993 and started my career as a barber/stylist at Miss J’s Beauty Salon, at 12th and Hamlin St., the owner was Mrs. Eunice Johnson. My plan and goal was to achieve a profession and to establish and pursue the desire of becoming a business owner…After two years of working at Miss. J’s, she and I took a walk in the direction of 2900 12th Street. We both got to the middle of the block and she stopped me, looked me in my eyes, and said “Go for it”, she said, “your taking me to the vacant spot on the corner, my son you’re ready, and your going to do well.”
On Sept. 16, 1995, at 11:34 am, my dad, mom, sister and myself signed a lease for 5 years, which opened the doors to M&S Barber Services. “M&S” are the initials of my parents, the late Mr. Medell Ford and my mom’s nick name Sweetsy Ford – and I was considered the “&”. All my life my parents raised me to be considerate of others, to respect mankind, and to be humble no matter what. I promised them both that this would be a business that’s going to make a difference in the community and will change lives in a positive way…a business that will have pride and commitment to its community.
My goal was to make an major impact…M&S is not your average small business, its a establishment where all is welcome and you count as a human being, a place where you look forward to coming back too, and most importantly, where you are respected and not judged…you’re part of a large community family.
Small business don’t stand a chance, times have changed…Redevelopment comes in and sees value, and destroy’s hard work and dreams, no matter what it takes or what the cost is to the businesses and communities. By no means am I against redevelopment, I truly believe change has great offerings, but so does consideration (for small businesses).”
M&S will survive, thanks to the people that support the community. And I’ve proven to be one of those citizens. 19 years is a long time to just walk away, hard work has taken place my dream has come true, and now this is what’s become of it. My question is, how many condos and restaurants can one community have? Somewhere there’s going to be a need for small businesses.”
Joe and Duane have reached out to many commercial property owners on 12th Street with no luck so far. We are hoping that by spreading the word through a grassroots appeal, someone in the community will know of a workable option. Small businesses like M&S are a big part of what gives Brookland its “small town in a big city” appeal and make the fabric of our community stronger. If you know of any affordable commercial space options, please reach out to Joe Barrios at jbarrios9396 (at) gmail (dot) com and/or Duane at djluvs2cut (at) icloud (dot) com.