(ADVISORY: This post relies on second-hand testimony.)
There's a shopping center close to where my parents live in Carson. Among the different stores in it is a hair salon. The neighborhood there is predominantly black and the salon caters to black women (as you all know, I don't do all that stuff to my hair, but there are many women who want that service).
The proprietor was a textbook example of what we tell our young people they can achieve if they try. A black man from neighboring Compton, disabled after a motorcycle accident, builds a successful local business. Hooray for the land of opportunity.
So why is he gone now?
One of the other merchants in the center spoke to me on condition of anonymity. According to this source, there were outsiders who had close ties to the owner of the shopping center and coveted the beauty salon. The shopping center began raising the man's rent, completely out of proportion to what other tenants were paying. He had been paying $5000 per month for his space, but they raised it to $13,000/month. The other merchant I spoke to doesn't pay anywhere near that much rent (the reason this other tenant has requested anonymity is out of fear of retaliation by the landlords). It's hard for me to understand why such a thing can be done. If the owners were upping his rent because of his race or gender or something, it would be illegal. But discrimination for no reason at all is OK. (This real estate article (it's a PDF) talks about rent discrimination as a normal fact of life.)
Paying $13,000 was a hardship, but he was managing to stay afloat by raising the space rental that the stylists were paying him to work in the shop. Then the lanlords raised his rent to $16,000. That was more than he could manage, and he began to get behind. When that happened, the outsiders-to-the-community-who-were-insiders-with-the-owners offered to buy his business from him. He accepted their offer. Anticipating that the business would soon be sold, he felt less pressure to struggle to continue paying the exorbitant rent. Then the would-be-buyers pulled out of the deal. With his debts mounting, he had no choice but to close down.
Within weeks, the salon was in operation again and doing a brisk business. I walked by there Saturday evening. At every chair was a stylist beautifying a local woman. And peering in from the back room were the outsiders who now run the place. No one knows how much rent they pay.
(updated with a couple more details)