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|Behind the small businesses of Jefferson|
Photography: Maria Nikias/Megan Dickey
Faces of Small Businesses | Jesus (left) is the manager of the small clothing store Yasmine located on Jefferson, and Londono (right) is manager of the small carpeting business Decorators Place III, Inc. located on Jefferson. Both managers have been worried about the economic slump affecting their business.
By Maria Nikias
Many main streets in Los Angeles have been defined by large businesses such as Starbucks, Target or Home Depot. Yet, other communities and cultures are found in the surrounding streets of downtown Los Angeles, where the local businesses are not as commercial. Jefferson Boulevard is a street where one may not find a Home Depot, but instead would find an abundance of small businesses that highlights the culture of the community.
Jefferson lacks the typical warehouse stores such as Lowe’s or Costco. Jefferson’s blocks are defined by small businesses ranging from general hardware stores to barbershops and salons. These small businesses reveal the unique culture and close-knit community on Jefferson Boulevard, and furthermore, the state of the economy in this small district.
The recent economic slump has left hundreds of businesses in financial struggles, forcing department stores like Linens ‘N Things and Circuit City to close. However, some smaller businesses on Jefferson Boulevard have thrived regardless of the worldwide financial stress.
Frank Londono's carpentry business, Decorator’s Place Inc. III, is one of the small businesses that has experienced profit during the economic slump. Londono moved his carpentry business to Jefferson Boulevard only a year ago during the height of the economic depression, and was worried his 20-year-old store would suffer as well.
However, Londono said his family-run business has continued to have high profit through the economy slump, and said his success is mainly from a consistent and loyal customer base.
“I don’t have walk-in customers. Ninety percent of my customers are management companies. They have been coming to my family’s business for years,” said Londono.
In early of 2009, America.gov claimed that a “‘unique customer base’” helps keep small businesses like Londono's carpentry in profit. Like many small businesses on Jefferson, Londono’s carpet store has always been a family-run business, and throughout the years, the management position has been passed on from generation to generation.
Even though Londono’s business has had profit in the worst of economic times in the United States, other businesses haven't experienced such luck. Jesus, also known as “Chuy” by his friends, owns the Yasmine clothing store on 7th Avenue and Jefferson Boulevard. Similar to Londono, Jesus moved his small business to Jefferson during the economy slump.
Previously, Jesus and his wife managed a 99 cent store on 24th and Maple street, but quickly found the store's profit failed to meet expectations when the economy took a turn for the worse. Hoping to boost sales, Jesus and his wife moved their business to a building on Jefferson owned by Jesus' sister.
The new store, Yasmine, currently only sells woman's clothing. Jesus believes he has had a positive response from customers about the products he sells.
"They like the store, they say we got good taste in the clothes. I'm glad to be here."
While Londono’s customers are mostly companies who have been coming to the carpentry store for years, Jesus' customers are mostly walk-ins.
“Jefferson has very nice people, good people who come back to the store. Most are walk-ins.” said Jesus.
However, even though Jesus has had a positive response from customers on Jefferson since his move, he has not seen the increase in sales he and his wife had hoped for. According to the America.gov website, small businesses that have a “niche,” such as Londono’s carpentry, can sustain profit during economy slumps. In contrast, businesses that are more standard, such as Jesus’ clothing store, might run into more financial struggles.
Both Londono and Jesus hope their small businesses make a higher profit in the upcoming year, but believe the Jefferson Boulevard community has been supportive throughout their successes and struggles.