By Paul Thompson
November 18, 2016
KANSAS CITY, Missouri – For 23 years, Victoria Rodriguez Tamayo has owned and operated Victoria’s Barber Shop on Independence Avenue.
Tamayo is a master barber, and proud of it. Proof of that pride can be found on her calf, where she has a tattoo featuring a red, white, and blue barber’s pole laid over an open pair of scissors.
Still, after more than two decades in the industry, Tamayo has decided to hang up her shears. She’s closing up her shop for good on Sunday, November 20, and will be moving to Sarasota, Florida shortly thereafter to live closer to family. Tamayo’s departure opens up an opportunity for the Hispanic Economic Development Corporation (HEDC), which actually purchased the property in March of 2016. HEDC is an organization dedicated to improving the lives of Latinos in the Kansas City area; they’ll now be continuing that work from Tamayo’s former barber shop in the Historic Northeast.
“With her retirement, we’re going to move part of our HEDC curriculum into this facility,” said HEDC Executive Director Pedro Zamora. “We do a lot of bilingual business development and financial literacy training. We also run a computer literacy lab.”
A new computer literacy lab is expected to be moved into the space where Victoria’s Barber Shop stands now. The structure HEDC purchased includes two other businesses in addition to the barber shop: Salud y Bienstar to the east and Huda Foods & Bakery to the west. Both businesses will remain in operation moving forward, as HEDC has established an aggressive timeline for major facade upgrades to all three storefronts. HEDC has already put resources into repairing the roof and handling some light clean-up at the property, and Zamora indicated on Thursday, November 17 that the facade improvements could be completed as soon as the beginning of January.
“Our plan is to take the new Independence Avenue overlay plan that’s been adopted and put that into play into at least these north-facing walls that need an upgrade,” said Zamora.
Upon seeing the designs for the three buildings, an emotional Tamayo could hardly contain her joy.
“I love it, I really do,” said Tamayo through tears. “I’m so glad you get it, Pedro. You’re going to do so good here; I’m so proud of you.”
HEDC’s move to Independence Avenue is just the beginning of the organization’s plans for Latino-owned businesses in the Northeast, where Zamora indicated as much as 40% of HEDC’s clients are based. Zamora noted that HEDC has recently announced a new Individual Development Account (IDA) program designed to help get small businesses off the ground by creating matching funds for savings accounts.
“That will allow us to create a four-to-one match for a young entrepreneur or an existing business that needs capital,” said Zamora. “If they save $1,000 over a six-month period of time, we’ll match them with $4,000. Our model is to help our clients stack their capital.”
To learn more about HEDC’s services, visit kchedc.org.