We Need to Support Black-Owned Businesses. Here Are 300+ Places in Philly to Start
Shopping at and supporting Black-owned businesses is one step we can all take to begin confronting racial economic inequity.
In the window of Joy Fowler-Davis’s business, the UPS Store on Girard and 3rd, hangs a sign: the words “Black Owned Business” on the backdrop of the Pan-African flag. Fowler-Davis and her husband and co-owner Dwright are among the 2.5 percent in Philly — the shocking percentage of Philly business owners who are Black in a city with a population that’s 43 percent Black. This stark disparity stems from a historic lack of opportunity for Black economic growth that continues to put the group at an unfair disadvantage — and at the bottom end of a growing racial wealth gap.
As recent protests churned in the wake of the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and many others, calls rang out across the country to take action — to sign petitions, to donate, to protect and support and fight for our Black communities. The call to support Black businesses surfaced as one of many avenues to vote with your dollars and to help empower Black lives in the face of stigma and systemic inequity.
Calls to support these businesses resulted in the creation and sharing of lists and directories and maps to direct consumers toward great Black-owned businesses to support. On Juneteenth, Beyoncé published a national directory, which featured Philly business owner Rashida Irvin, whose grand opening of her male spa and lounge Mister Relaxation in Germantown was postponed due to COVID-19. Irvin says these directories can help people make better choices when buying.
“Instead of going to the mall, instead of going to Banana Republic or Nordstrom, you could check out this website first to see if there’s something there that sparks your interests, and I’m sure there will be,” Irvin said. “And it will make you feel better to recycle your money in our community.”
Especially in Philadelphia, a city with rampant and systemic socioeconomic issues, encouragement to “Buy Black” shouldn’t be limited to the Black community.
“In a diverse city, I don’t think it always has to come from the Black consumer,” said Ashley Reid, owner of Active Mom Fitness in Fishtown. “I think that non-Black consumers can also make that same effort.”
While ultimately addressing Philly’s Black-owned businesses gap will require larger policy and power changes, actively supporting and investing in Black-owned establishments is a piece of the solution. And this isn’t simply limited to buying Black. Offering publicity and positive feedback, as well as resources and access to investors is crucial. Reid said the key to supporting Black businesses is making it a sustained effort rather than a one-time box to check off a to-do list.
“By supporting them, you’re empowering Black families, you’re helping create jobs, you’re celebrating Black culture — you’re helping a community flourish,” Reid said.
For Dwright Fowler-Davis, the challenges Black business owners face begin with the hurdles of prejudice and racism that lead some to not take them seriously.
Moneek Pines, owner of ARTrageous Brush and Flow in Germantown, agrees. “Black businesses can get the short end of the stick” because of the stigmatization of Black businesses as unprofessional, she said.
Empowering and giving back to their community is the best part of the job for the Fowler-Davises. The duo conduct workshops to share about the process of opening a store and use their platform to employ family members. A few times a week, customers of color will notice the word “owner” on Joy’s name tag and leave inspired, she said.
“It’s just awesome knowing that we can even plant a seed in someone’s head that ‘If they can do it, so can I,’” she said.
In this directory, you’ll find the Fowler-Davis’s UPS store, Irvin’s Mister Relaxation, Reid’s Active Mom Fitness, and Pines’s ARTrageous Brush and Flow along with more than 300 other Black-owned businesses in the city.
For your dose of post-shutdown self-care, check out the list of barbershops and hair salons such as North Philly’s Duafe Holistic Hair Care, beauty and body care shops such as Northern Liberties’s Freedom Apothecary, or nail salons like Brown Sugar Nail Spa in Passyunk Square.
Looking to do a bit of summer reading or buy literature on anti-racism? Browse Philly’s Black-owned bookstores. Updating your closet? Add these boutiques and brands to your shopping rounds, from Curve Conscious in North Philly to Perfectly Flawless Boutique in Germantown to The Sable Collective in Center City.
Search by category for anything and everything including cleaning services, counseling and consulting, entertainment, event planning, fitness, health and wellness, insurance, IT, legal services, photography, and more. Need a cat sitter? You’ll find that too.
One important note: This directory doesn’t include a section devoted to restaurants, because if you’re looking for a bite to eat, the team behind BlackOwnedPhillyRestaurants.com has you covered with their awesome directory and map, while Black and Mobile serves as a delivery platform for Black-owned restaurants. And if you’re looking for more resources beyond this directory, you can also give a follow to Black Owned Philly on Facebook and Instagram, or check out Katika Philly.
This list was compiled with the support and permission of Barry Johnson at the African American Chamber of Commerce, Philadelphians across the city from several neighborhood Facebook groups, and from Ron Holgado and Shana Booker. See anything we’re missing? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
Philadelphia magazine is one of more than 20 news organizations producing Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project on solutions to poverty and economic mobility in the city. Read all our reporting here.