In 2004, business along 7th Street in Shaw (NW) were told they had 30-60 days before development moved in and for many that meant the end of their business.
Wanda on 7th is the only business out of 11 who returned in 2014; it was a fight that lasted eight long years.
“I was afraid I was terribly afraid but the developers and I were able to come to an agreement,” said Wanda Henderson. “You definitely have to build yourself up financially and emotionally, because when you move out you lose money and when you come back it’s like starting a new business all over again. You talk to your City Council members and ANC Commissioners to let them know you’re serious about staying in your neighborhood.”
Wanda’s on 7th has been a Shaw institution for four decades. She fought to stay not only for her business and clients, but for the history that was at risk of being forgotten.
“This space is where Duke Ellington and Nat King Cole got their first process and the space next door is a restaurant that James Brown, The Temptations anyone who performed at the Howard would eat at Cecelia’s and stay at Cecelia’s.”
Henderson said business couldn’t be better; half salon, half barbershop with a total of 18 stations. There’s even a spot where Henderson herself typically styles hair for VIPS.
“Gentrification comes in and everything changes, it becomes much more expensive. It can be a good thing because we all want to grow, we all want to make money. Change is great we all have to be in the city together,” she said.
Henderson’s secret to surviving gentrification? Adapt, advocate and fight to keep what makes your neighborhood unique.