During Black History month, it is extremely important to support small businesses owned by BIPOC and others in order to show support. There are many great ones just under our noses in Massachusetts and the Boston area, ranging from take-out to hair care to bookstores. After the year everyone just endured, these types of businesses especially were hit hard due to the pandemic and BLM. Massachusetts is a prime example of a place where small businesses are often underlooked, and our generation especially does not shop locally and mostly feed chain stores and child labor. I have listed 5 small Black-owned businesses here in this article that I think are worth checking out and supporting, especially with all the new free time we have.
French press – Needham
French press is a coffee shop/bakery/eatery… basically, they have it all. The owner, Jay Spencer, opened up the store in Needham, Massachusetts in 2015 along with his restaurant Petit Robert Bistro which closed in 2017. This eatery is filled to the brim with classic French pastries that are either available for walk-in to order or curbside pickup, and have raving reviews by all customers. Spencer has spoken in multiple interviews about the impact of Black Lives Matter on his business and how although customers in Needham are super supportive financially and vocally, however, he struggles with publicity. Due to the town being pretty White-dominated, there is no real award for Black-Owned Businesses since there are so few. Needless to say though, word of mouth travels fast and the amazing service at French Press is highly recommended.
Frugal Bookstore – Roxbury
The Frugal Bookstore in Roxbury is filled to the brim with books, nicknacks, and a strong sense of friendliness the moment, you walk in the store. Run by a husband and wife team, the bookstore holds new books of many genres and even will special order one for you if you don’t find what you’re looking for. During May/June of this year, this business received tremendous support from towns across the Boston area they were barely able to keep up. What with the BLM protests happening right outside their store and the pandemic, the team was unsure of the success of their business. That is, until, people from all over Massachusetts started opening their hearts and wallets to more Black-owned businesses such as this one. This is the Boston area’s only black-owned bookstore and is of course always open to new customers and patrons who want to find their perfect read.
The Coast Cafe – Cambridge
The Coast Cafe, opened in 1997 by Tony Brooks and his father, is a staple in the Cambridge community. This restaurant focuses on soul food, specifically their chicken boxes and sandwiches. Due to COVID they are now only open for delivery and pickup, which of course does not affect the quality of their food it just means you get to eat from the comfort of your own home. The cafe has been listed under numerous associations for the best chicken in the whole Boston area, and people come from all over the state just to have a taste. Reviewers from Mass Realty describe the experience of the food and comfort of the restaurant as “jazzy, with the feel of being at home.” Overall, soul food is pretty difficult to find when not looking in the right places and The Coast Cafe seems to have it and much more covered for their customers!
Giselles Flowers and Gifts- Roxbury
With over 20 years of floral experience, Giselles Flowers and Gifts is a one stop shop for decoration essentials for any occasion. Ranging from weddings to birthdays, the women and black owned business can cater to multitudes of designs. Though their client base is small, their customers leave extremely kind reviews and attest to the great communication from all the employees as well as the amazing quality of all the gifts. This is a walk in store, but order online is available as well especially through the phone so you may discuss your exact needs with one of the floral designers. When thinking about purchasing flowers, although it may be easy to head to a trader joes or local grocery store, consider purchasing from a local business or this lovely black-owned local business.
Sweet Teez Bakery – Dorchester
Sweet Teez, started in 2016 and ran by Teresa Thompson Maynard, is a nut-free bakery that caters toward food allergies- especially for those allergic to nuts. Maynard is a self taught home baker who started out as a young girl and continues now to bake for her own children and family. She left her job at Harvard university to attend a 10 week program on business building with the help of her husband. Now, she runs her business almost every day and enchants customers with her outgoing personality and tasty goods. She spoke about this building of a business in an interview with The Center For Women & Enterprise, stating: “You don’t know me, but I’m a rule follower, so this is very uncomfortable — but I decided to step out on a limb and follow my passion. And I’ve loved every minute of it.” Although there is currently no storefront, Maynard works out of a professional bakery kitchen in Dorchester and caters to online orders and phone-in orders alike.