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One Unique Business Community

West Jefferson Stores
The area of West Jefferson Boulevard near Arlington is comprised of numerous unique businesses. These stores, shops and studios offer more than just products and services, they provide a sense of community as well.

Umoja Sasa: Unity Now
Umoja Sasa offers a wide range of products to the residents of Crenshaw. Everything from fragrances to clothing can be found in the store.

Faded Up Barber Shop
Faded Up Barber Shop on West Jefferson Blvd has been serving the Crenshaw area for two years; the shop provides $20 hair cuts and other services.
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By Kaitlyn Durocher

When driving down Jefferson Boulevard, there are many unique businesses to visit. Near the intersection of Arlington and West Jefferson, however, the businesses that line the street are more than just a slew of stores. Faded Up Barber, Umoja Sasa and World Championship Karate Sports Academy are three stores that have turned their shops into a community. The owners and their family members rely on one another and help each other with business.

The force that ties each store’s owners together is a man named Cashis, the creator of Faded Up Barber Shop. He opened the shop two years ago and has turned it into a local icon with its urban feel and graffiti decorations. Cashis brought Antonio, the owner of the Umoja Sasa, a fragrance and apparel store, and Walter, a local karate master, together as he introduced them to one another. Now, the three are the big shots of their block of West Jefferson.

“If I ever need something fixed, Antonio is the guy I go to. Walter too, they’re both good guys,” Cashis exclaimed.

Antonio is described as being one of the most passionate guys in Crenshaw, always working to promote diversity, and Cashis calls Walter the “hardest worker he’s ever met.” If one of them needs a haircut, they turn to Cashis, in return providing the young barber with fighting lessons and unlimited cologne. The three depend on one another for many things.

“I’ve babysat Cashis’ kid many times. We’re like brothers and it’s all thanks to our stores happening to be by each other on the street. Times get tough around here, with crime and racism and other things, but us three will be okay,” Walter said.

Not only does each store-owner have the other’s back, but they also all recommend customers to help with business.

“Many of my customers come from Cashis. They go get their hair cut and Cashis’ big mouth talks up my karate academy and suddenly they send their kids to me to learn self defense,” Walter continued.

Despite a few minor set backs, such as the cops being called on Faded Up Barber shop by a church across the street, the three men say that business is good.

“I get about ten or more customers a day and I really can’t complain,” Antonio said.

The church across the street, Trinity Baptist Church, has given the guys trouble before, however.

“They see us as thugs. They look at my shop’s sign, which is all graffiti, and think I’m nothing but trouble,” Cashis complained. “Then, they hear the music I like to bump while I work out or clean and call the police on me.”

All three guys believe that if the church were to get to know them, then there wouldn’t be any problems. Antonio, especially, hopes the stores and church can someday work together.

“Maybe Cashis has had problems with his employees in the past, but us three are fine people. They could help us get a lot of customers too. I see plenty of people going into that church on Sundays who I’m sure need a hair cut or some clothes,” Antonio said.

Antonio says the church does not fortify the community, but rather keeps it segregated. Cashis and Walter agree saying Trinity Baptist Church has not accomplished what they hoped the church would be able to do.

“A church is supposed to bring people together. They just keep themselves separate from us instead thought,” Cashis sighed.

Despite the hindrances caused by the church, the storeowners have still managed to make their names known. Other workers in different stores along the block say they know Cashis and his friends.

“I have not worked here long, but I’m from Mexico so I’m not close with the other workers on the street, because they do not understand me,” said Careena, the cashier at Cruz Mini Mart and Party Supply, a party store a couple of buildings from Faded Up Barber.

Careena says that sometimes Cashis’ loud music disturbs her, but trusts nothing bad will happen with all three guys around. She also says their stores help her business, even if they don’t intend for it to.

“Now I get more customers then before because they go to the other stores first then stop here for a soda or candy,” Careena said in broken English.

The three men say they hope to continue to make their area of Crenshaw into one community and plan to expand their outreach with time.

Providing Party Essentials
Ellen's Party Rentals gives customers a unique service. The store creates crafts and products, such as piñatas, for a wide variety of parties. Quinceañera, bachelorette parties and Bat Mitzvahs are all serviced by Ellen and her family.

Serving All Beauty Needs
Hair Supply + is the one stop shop for Crenshaw's beauty needs. Wigs, hair extensions, make-up and shampoo are all sold at this convenient location.