barrio logan

Barrio Logan Entrepreneur Fighting to Keep Neighborhood in Business

Small business owners are worried the pandemic will destroy treasured neighborhoods like Barrio Logan

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Several Barrio Logan business owners have teamed up to begin a community event called "Walk the Block." They encourage businesses to operate outdoors along the sidewalk and parking lots following the City of San Diego's new Temporary Outdoor Business Permit.

"If there's a time to do it, it's now," said Claudia Rodriguez-Biezunski. "You have to do it now."

While the owner of Sew Loka, Rodriguez-Biezunski, is not designing fashion for sale, she is donating handwoven masks for those in need.

"I knew there was going to be a need for masks and my skill could obviously help and I wanted to help my community because my community has always had my back," said Rodriguez-Biezunski.

Since the start of the pandemic, the Latina entrepreneur has doubled down on her shop: Sew Loka. She is now taking advantage of the City of San Diego's new Temporary Outdoor Business Permit and encouraging others to do the same.

"We want to be able to have an experience for people who come here and if it was only me, we cannot create that experience," she explained.

In tandem with the city's new outdoor permit, she and other Latina business owners created the "Walk the Block" event in hopes of reviving Barrio Logan. This allows them to take up the sidewalk and parking lot space.

"We obviously want for the businesses that are here to generate that income that we were generating before, to survive this," said Rodriguez-Biezunski.

 The proud owner of Sew Loka said her biggest fear is losing the fabric of the Barrio Logan community.

Photos: Barrio Logan Entrepreneur Fighting To Keep The Neighborhood In Business

"Losing one of my neighbors to the pandemic that accelerates gentrification and you know we just don't want another small business to lose everything they worked hard for," she said.

Next door to Sew Loka was NATIVO, a boutique forced to close its doors due to the pandemic's financial consequences.

"For someone to lose their business from something they cannot control, I don't want to see that in my community again," she said.

Rodriguez-Biezunski is encouraging others to get their city outdoor permit and join Logan Avenue businesses on Saturdays outside where they will sell goods and feed the community.

"Whatever you have to do in order to keep your business alive, do it," she said.

Having owned her shop for more than seven years and working as a seamstress since she was a little girl, she said she's dedicated to not letting anyone take away her community.

"You know I have a high school diploma that's highest of my education and for me, it's like, 'Hey if I can do it, anyone can do it, hey just keep going because what else do we have other than losing our business?'" said Rodriguez-Biezunski.

The "Walk the Block" event is going on every Saturday in Barrio Logan from noon to 6 p.m. businesses participating range from Chicano Park through 26th street on Logan Avenue.

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