Several barbershops in the Jamaica section of Queens became part of the campaign trail, as mayoral candidate John Liu stopped by Saturday to speak with small business owners and local residents. NY1's Priya Desai filed the following report.
Tyrone Lewis has owned Millennium Barbershop on Merrick Avenue in Jamaica for almost 14 years. He has seen his shop and others like his face numerous issues as a small, family-owned business.
"Other businesses face other problems like the way they're being taxed, the work that they're doing outside, bike lines and everything," said Lewis.
Saturday afternoon, Lewis and other small business owners met with a Democratic mayoral candidate, City Comptroller John Liu, to talk about some of the issues they face.
Liu's mother owned a store during part of the comptroller's childhood, and he finds many of the problems she faced are still prevalent today.
"When I was a teenager, my mom had a small shop for a couple of years. It was a grocery slash fruit store and it was never a good thing when she heard from the city and it's still the same way today," Liu said.
The candidate spent the afternoon visiting shops to promote his campaign views on the importance of government cooperation with family-run businesses.
"I think small business owners should see city government as a partner. A partner in how they could grow their business, so that we can grow more jobs for the residents of this community," Liu said.
City Councilmen Ruben Wills, Leroy Comrie and Donovan Richards hosted the afternoon tour. Invitations have been extended to all mayoral candidates.
"Barber shops, and beauty salons which we are also doing, are the places where people speak candidly. So we wanted to make sure that the candidates, the comptroller, come in, because he's not going to get the typical questions that you would get at a large forum," Wills said.
The informal setting gave locals the opportunity to open up about problems they say otherwise go unnoticed.
"It's definitely a struggle out here. People are struggling just to pay for a haircut nowadays," said Pete Burrowes, a Queens resident.
"It's very important for them to understand what's going on in the different communities, 'cause that way they are willing to do something about it once they get in office," said Michael Jean, another Queens resident.
The tours will extend through the summer all across businesses in southeast Queens.