Text and photos by Stacie Joy
Like most local businesses, Raul’s Barber Shop at 11 Avenue B (between Houston and Second Street) is struggling during the pandemic.
Raul Velez Sr., 78, has been at the head of his eponymous barber shop on Avenue B for 59 years, and he and his son Junior show me around space.
I meet barber Cesar Barros, 63, who has been cutting hair here for 32 years, and learn more about the space, which was separated into individual sections for increased COVID precautions. Business has been slower recently and the shop is working to adjust.
Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that the barber shop no longer bears Raul’s name on the awning, nor the phone number, and the mural of Puerto Rican fighter and entertainer Hector “Macho” Camacho that used to grace the gate is also missing.
The building (in a package deal along with its neighbor at 9 Avenue B), which was previously owned by Michael Chang now belongs to notorious landlord Steve Croman, and the shop was told to paint over everything. Junior tells me there has been no rent increase yet but they are concerned about changes might be forthcoming.