Supporting black businesses has become a goal of many black folks, but could you only “buy black” for an entire year?

That was the aim of one Chicago family who set out to patronize only black businesses for a year.  Maggie Anderson and her family chronicled their quest to “buy black” in the book Our Black Year, which encourages others  to do the same.

Anderson explained why she chose to patronize only black businesses, “This came out of a conversation that happens among a lot of African-American middle class households. We remember a time when we didn’t have these problems because we had local businesses that kept our communities strong,” she told her local Fox New affiliate. “Those businesses are gone. We figured maybe if we did something extreme to bring that issue into the national dialogue, we can get folks to start supporting the few great businesses that we do have and maybe inspire economic empowerment.”

Because Anderson’s hometown of Chicago has the most black businesses in the country, more than 90,000, she thought the experiment would be easy. However, she quickly found out it was more difficult than she thought.

“What we found was when we went to the West Side, yes, there were some black businesses, but they are all concentrated in the stereotypical black industries: soul food restaurants, barber shops, braiding salons,” Anderson said. “We could not find those basic things that every community needs to survive: a grocery store, dry cleaner, department store, general merchandise, mom and pop shops.”

Chicago-Area Family ‘Buys Black’ for One Year, Publishes Experience in ‘Our Black Year’:

Anderson hopes her book will not only highlight the benefits to supporting businesses in our own communities, but also serve as a call to action for black consumers to support black-owned businesses.

Do you support black-owned businesses? 

  • Nikki

    The premise is stupid because most of all basic, essential raw materials are controlled by white owned companies. So you’re buying white owned things anyway. Abolish racial categories please someone please

  • apple

    no because i dont know anyone black that owns things i need like a grocery store or clothing store or even a hair store

  • LaDreaming86

    I do not support Black owned business. Why? For one thing, there aren’t any in the immediate area where I live besides the barbershop and braid shop, which is actually in a mall (the braid shop) and I wouldn’t call working out of a suite where the owners are Asian a business really.

    In my opinion, if Black businesses are to compete, they would need to not go the stereotypical route and actually provide to the community what’s it’s missing. But then, at the same time, the consumers would have to accept the businesses in their area and actually patronize it. What I am talking about here, for example, would be a Black owned yogurt shop not getting any business because the residents of the community think frozen yogurt isn’t something Black people eat (I know, sounds absurd). I mean, when is the last time you have seen a sushi restaurant in a Black area?

    Another thing is, I have noticed with a lot of Black businesses (and businesses geared toward Black people owned by non-Blacks) is that they only accept cash.

    Likewise, a lot of Black businesses lack professionalism and that keeps the good people away.

    *Hopefully someone understand what I am saying.

  • Bee

    I love to support black/Caribbean/African-owned businesses. And Chicago does have a lot of black-owned businesses. I used to go to this amazing coffeehouse owned and ran by a black woman in Chicago’s Northside (in Ukranian Village) (the owner was so awesome, a great person), and she always had quite a few customers of all races. It was a very nice coffeehouse, very nicely decorated and comfy. And the atmosphere was welcoming and professional. I’m not surprised to see a couple of self-hating and narrow-minded comments show up on this post.

  • malik hemmans

    co sign

  • malik hemmans

    yes i would, but in Los Angeles there are mostly korean and hispanic owned stores

  • LaDreaming86

    Do explain where you see “self-hating” comments on this post.

  • Bee

    Um, since you responded to my comment, I’m assuming you already know the answer to that question.

  • Bee

    Apple, unfortunately this is very true in most parts of this country. Chicago is definitely a rarity as far as black-owned businesses are concerned. But there are some places down south that have a lot of black-owned businesses. You just have to really hunt for them sometimes.

  • lulu

    i would love to that but there is no black owned grocery store, gas station, drug store, hair product store, mcdonalds, ect.. that is a market black people can tap into..

  • LaDreaming86

    So, you aren’t going to explain?

  • Guulo

    awesome idea and great initiative!

  • Whatever

    The black owners are getting the profit though…

  • Whatever

    I would most definitely try it out to the best of my ability. I mean DUH! If there is no black owned grocery store in your area of course you can’t go that route, however, you can commit to buying from black owned businesses when it is possible. I already tend to choose black owned businesses anyway.

    Here are a few sites I found on google:

  • Kayla


    Not all black businesses are alike and if you want to see self-hating all you have to do is look in the mirror.

  • Whatever

    Black people would have a hard time believing the civil rights movement was heavily recognized by the government mainly when they realized how much money black businesses were making (and white businesses were losing) because of segregation. It’s ALWAYS about politics and money.

  • lw

    I support Black business whenever and however I can because I have owned a boutique for 14 years and know just how difficult it is to keep it going. But it can be done, even in these tough economic times. And we are not all hair care, soul food, and “hood clothing spots”. Seek us out… We need you!

  • Bee

    Awesome links! Thank you!

  • Tonton Michel

    I do when available, but can not completely buy black, there is just too many in the same types of businesses.

  • EbonyLolita

    Even in NYC it’s a rarity, but I really try to support Black owned. Recently my friend put me on to several black owned Beauty supply stores. I’m natural & now the Koreans have invested in getting Natural hair products b/c they know they can make $$$ off of it. If you’re on 125th go to Nicholas’, it’s right next to the Body Shop. Same stuff, just black owned :) Also L&P on White Plains Rd off 227th is owned by two Jamaican sisters. I end up going to Fairway for my foods & to the regular franchise stores for clothes. Maybe I’ll make more of an effort to buy black/

  • Wuluwulu

    I would love to do this on a broader scale. I think I would need to do some in depth research into this. I already patronize black beauty supply, bakery, restaurants. I will try to find other businesses to support.

  • LaDreaming86

    Of course all Black businesses are not alike. I never stated that they were, nor do I believe that they are.

    Where did I indicate that I wanted to *see* self-hating? I asked the other person to explain her position in stating, ” I’m not surprised to see a couple of self-hating and narrow-minded comments show up on this post.”

    Likewise, you are another person reiterating a sentiment of self-hate coming from another person, but you choose not to explain how you arrived at that conclusion.

    If you are going to call me something, tell me why.

    If you don’t understand my comments, ask me to clarify.

    Someone, please explain to me where in my comment one can ascertain that I have an issue with being a Black person.

  • Kayla


    I don’t care about you or your stuptd ass comments. I support black owned businesses and thats all that matters to me.

  • Bee

    Okay, since you obviously don’t understand the self-hate lurking in your comment, let me point out two things you said:

    1) “Likewise, a lot of Black businesses lack professionalism and that keeps the good people away.” Lack professionalism? Really? Or do we just expect black people to act like white people if they want to be considered professional?

    2) “I do not support Black owned business. Why? For one thing, there aren’t any in the immediate area where I live besides the barbershop and braid shop, which is actually in a mall (the braid shop) ” This is a flat out stereotype of black businesses. You mean to tell me, you haven’t ever seen an African/Caribbean/Af-Am owned grocery store? (That is an honest question, and I’m just curious). You’ve never been to or seen a black-owned restaurant? We only have hair stores and beauty/barbershops.

    Honey, I’m not trying to diss you, but I need you to understand that black folks own many types of businesses. Yes, in some cities, the only black-owned businesses you’ll find is a hair store or two, but that’s usually in cities that have very tiny black populations. In many cities with very large black populations, you’ll find a variety of black-owned businesses. They are often just hard to find (and are not always in black areas) and have a hard time staying open, due to lack of support and race-based property taxing (e.g. when Chicago decided to gentrify parts of the black Southside, it raised astronomically the property taxes for local businesses and tons of black businesses went under). In other words, there are many reasons black business struggle and disappear (or take a while to get necessary technology for credit card transactions, for instance).

    So, as you said, we need to patronize black businesses and branch out in the types of things that we consume (like yogurt, as you mentioned). I agreed with that portion of your comment, but the rest of it was just laden with stereotypes. We don’t just run hair shops or whatnot. There are a variety of types of black businesses (such as the coffeehouse I mentioned). That’s all.

  • Georgia

    I definitely try, too, although like many posters have mentioned, the breadth of the average consumer’s commercial needs aren’t always provided by black owners. But the complexity of why this is does not lie solely on the shoulders of black business people. Read some history (–heck, just watch Rosewood, if you think it’s all about black people’s management styles or narrow interests. The history of black business in this country has been to systematically deny equal access to black owners, whether it’s through the denial of bank loans or outright violence. So whatever the state of black ownership it is built upon a highly problematic base.

  • SunshineO

    Luckily Milwaukee has an African-American owned grocery store chain called Lena’s.

    Milwaukee, also has a host of other black owned business across industries such as graphic arts, real estate, hospitality, fashion etc. Now our city may not be the best climate for race relations, but things are progressing slowly but surely.

    I can say with Chicago being an hour away, there are definately many influences that make its way up here.

  • mw

    With all respect, I think it’s gross inaccuracies like these that hurt most: I’m an Afro-Caribbean woman and I eat sushi, primarily shop organic, love coffee and frozen yogurt. I also patronize Black businesses who have these goods now that I live in New Orleans….when they don’t, I try and see if they can get them in stock. So far it’s been pretty productive.

    I live in a middle-class Black neighborhood and one of my favorite sushi spots is less than a 1/4 mile away from me.

    I’m not sure whether you identify as Black or not but maybe there would be more Black owned yogurt shops if people stopped stereotyping and reducing us to fried chicken, watermelon and hair weaves.

    Sure, I’ve come across unprofessional Black businesses– but that’s applied to ALL businesses: I don’t patronize them and I make sure I post a negative yelp review to that effect.

    Additionally, most mom and pop set ups don’t accept alternative forms of payment: they simply don’t have enough clientele to make buying into the CC service profitable.

  • I Am Your People

    I love the idea, but where I live, Black owned businesses are limited to barbershops, salons and a few restaurants. There were a few Black owned gift shops but they went out of business. And I don’t know how Black folks – or any new kid on the block of any race – would break into selling groceries or opening banks

  • LaDreaming86

    1. I cannot speak for what anyone else expects, but surely I do not equate being/acting professional as ‘acting like White people’.

    2. There are very few Black businesses in my area as I stated before. I haven’t ever seen an African/Caribbean/African American owned grocery store with the exception of a small Caribbean Bakery and Grill that is in a shopping center a few miles from my house.

    I live in an area of the suburbs that has more than a 90% Black population, but the businesses that come to the area aren’t Black owned and they are businesses that cater to the stereotypes about Black people. For goodness sakes, there isn’t even a bookstore in this area, but yet a rim shop, braid shop and another beauty supply store was added to the area. Mind you, there was already a beauty supply store inside of the mall and out! So now, I have no problem being able to buy a $7.00 bottle of shampoo, but I have to travel several miles on public transportation to get to the nearest book store.

    I am thinking that maybe in my comment I expressed that I believed Black businesses to only consist of barbershops and braid shops, and that is not what I was trying to do, because I know that to not be true. And no, I have never been to a Black owned restaurant.

    I still don’t quite understand how my comment gives the impression that I have ‘self-hate’, because I don’t hate myself or being Black. And if you care to listen – What I hate, is having to spend a minimum of an hour on public transportation to travel to jobs, restaurants, malls and other places because the increase in urban population has driven businesses away, keeps them from coming and leaving the ones that only cater to the stereotypes of Black people in the area.

  • LaDreaming86

    When I first moved to the community where I live now, it was definitely middle-class, but the increase in the urban population over the years from city folks moving in has turned it into more of a lower middle-class area.

    When I asked, “I mean, when is the last time you have seen a sushi restaurant in a Black area?” I was thinking mostly of the area where I live and the fact that in order for me to get to the things that I like, I have to travel quite a distance. It’s no problem for me to be able to pick up some fast food from Popeyes, McDonalds, Burger King or some Chinese food, but if I want some Sushi, I have to call them and have it delivered. If I need to get my nails done or buy a cricket/boost mobile phone, it’s no problem. But, if I want to go to Barnes & Noble, I have to get on the bus and travel 7.7 miles to do so.

    I should have specified that the unprofessionalism that I have experienced from Black businesses has come from my experience in hair salons and braid shops. I definitely didn’t mean to imply every type of Black business exhibited unprofessionalism.

  • LadyW

    @LaDreaming86- This has got to be the most ignorant comment I’ve read on this site in a while. Why does a sushi restaurant have to be in a black neighborhood? Do you expect to see an African restaurant in the heart of China-Town. As for the yogurt analogy, what makes you think that black people will not patronize it. It is exactly your type of attitude that discourages black business owners from opening yogurt shops and etc in black neighborhoods.
    You have already assumed that these types of businesses will not be patronized. And if and when they do open, you have already made it clear that you will not patronize them. How? Well, according to you:
    1) A lot of black businesses lack professionalism
    2) Most black businesses only take cash

    Seriously, you are definitely part of the problem. Sad sad sad.

  • binks

    I do when I can but like mention outside of restaurants, independent shops and boutiques there aren’t many in my area and secondly in this economy it is all about finding the most bang for your buck so I naturally shop around for folks that give me the best deal whether black,white,etc.

  • pink

    LaDream: I’m surprised that you haven’t noticed that there is a “Lack of Professionalism” at most businesses these days. I’ve encountered black, white, and latinos that are very unprofessional. It seems that a lot of people really don’t care about customer service anymore. So your eluding to this being just a black problem is waaaaay off-base. I notice it all the time in most grocery, and department stores. Not to mention telephone customer service when you have to call a bank, credit card, or utility company. For example when you ask a person a question in a department store…they act like you are bothering them.

  • pink

    Entrepreneurship people…..Entrepreneurship!!!! Lots of black people talk, and dream about owning a business….but it’s like they’re scared to follow thru.

  • girlformerlyknownasgrace

    When I first read through this story I first thought she said ALL businesses–as in, everything from use of internet (how do you patronize the internet without running into something that is White-owned?) to clothes (because, let’s admit it, Black-owned clothing businesses are not often made of good quality). I think I was thinking of the big picture, not of small shops owned by Blacks.

  • LaDreaming86

    Pink: I have noticed, but this article wasn’t about that. It was about Black businesses, which is what I spoke on. I didn’t allude to this being only a Black thing, and I did clarify that in my other comments.

    *Not to be rude here, but my screen name is LaDreaming86, not La Dream or Lady Dream as someone else keeps referring to me as.


    LadyW: I never stated that a sushi restaurant [had] to be in a Black neighborhood. I asked, ” I mean, when is the last time you have seen a sushi restaurant in a Black area?” What I was getting at is that there are Black people who do like to eat sushi, but because of the stereotypes about Black people, businesses like that do not come to Black areas. Whenever I travel to affluent WHITE areas, there are multiple ethnic restaurants.

    What makes me think Black people wouldn’t patronize a yogurt shop? It’s not that [I] think they won’t. It’s other people who think they won’t because of stereotypes, so again, those businesses don’t set up in Black areas.

    No, I did not make it clear that I wouldn’t patronize Black businesses. I never even said that. I stated that other people wouldn’t because of stereotypes.

    Yes, according to me a lot of Black businesses do lack professionalism. This isn’t a sentiment that originated with me. It has come from my experiences and if you care to do so, you can do a search on the internet where a lot of people make the same claims.

  • twee

    I don’t think the point is that we not buy from “the man” I think the point is to pour into and grow an economy that’s directly impacting us as well. It’s no different from a city that urge us to buy local, and then next step would be to buy in the USA.

    Racial categorizing may be a created thing, but the reality that we’re different from one another is not, AND there nothing wrong with that. I think we need to stop focusing on wanting to change who we are and focus on simply getting at hate, real hate not people that are actually seeking to do things for their own people. God wasn’t colorblind when He made us, neither should we be, nor are we truly able to be.

  • twee

    My neighborhood has been growing as a whole thanks to a business specifically focused on getting my neighborhood back to what it use to be. There are some stereotypical businesses, but the initiatives put forward has drawn all kinds of different businesses and those businesses are begetting like minded entrepreneurs.

    My neighborhood is predominately black but it struck me funny that one of the primarily people in this change is a white male. It bothered me at first, I thought that was a clear sign of gentrification headed our way but he’s actually investing in this neighborhood as is. I think we will find the area becoming more diverse because of it but I no longer believe that was the goal.

    He tried to get a Starbucks in the neighborhood but was told it wasn’t a fit basically. And other businesses that he’s tried to get here that we all complained isn’t coming to our neighborhood and he was turned away. The primary focus is on small business ownership but I found it interesting that places that we also frequent didn’t think we’d want them. And the thing is, they may be right, not that we wouldn’t frequent these places but most people in this area that care go well outside of the area to get the things that they need and isn’t necessarily interested in shopping near home.

  • NY’s Finest

    Yes! I love Nicholas, I’ve been shopping there for about six years now.

  • I`am not MAD

    If we were to remover somethings:1) what`s my name
    2)”self-hating”-AKA- MELANCHOLIA
    3) Women you control the dollars of your house hold
    do you go for Instant Gratification (style) or do “U” bank on the
    Future.It`s way past time to get over yourselves. in other
    words grown up !!!! and be happy.

  • girlformerlyknownasgrace

    I think you meant to say “I have a hard time supporting black businesses” not “i do not support black businesses.” the latter makes it sound like you do not WANT to support Black businesses, and the former is closer to what you are saying, that because of location it is just difficult to patronize Black businesses.

  • Whatever

    There are many black owned businesses in in NYC…

    Thanks for the beauty supply info.

  • Guest

    i read the story in Bookpages and thought how funny it was that it took gentrification to get a more good stores in my freakin community

  • LaDreaming86

    Girlformerlyknownasgrace – Yea, that’s what I was trying to say.

  • civil radd

    mw, With all(due) respect.Just what is a “Afo-Caribbean” women ?
    Are you braids,a do,pray tell,is you dreadlocks maybe U be a mohawh .
    Are “U” a sushi,yogurt,organic food composition?

  • Mw

    The term applies to Caribbean people of (primarily) African decent.
    That’s a simple wiki search, love

  • Tre Baker | Ujamaa Deals

    I think most Black people with any sense understand the importance of buying Black. It’s not that they aren’t aware of the issue…they just don’t know where the good Black businesses are to support them. Black business directories tried to solve that problem, but they obviously aren’t working. That’s why we started Ujamaa Deals, so people would have an easy way to support at least a few of the best Black businesses. We have to start somewhere, even if it’s just transferring an extra $50 of your monthly budget to supporting a Black business instead of another business you were going to spend that money with. For example, if we can just buy all bath and body products from Black-owned companies (and there are dozens of them), we can take back the Black beauty and haircare industries and employ thousands of our people.

  • I`am Not MADD

    Mw,”Afro” is a adjective.
    Wiki- “Melancholia” the time is 2012 AD
    Your “Ancestors”were not adjectives.
    the sun feels good…

  • Leroy Jenkums

    The best “black” owned business in my opinion is a funeral home.

  • Mw

    Is it really that serious?

    I used a descriptor for myself: it may not be PC enough for you but it’s how I identify.
    If your intention is to teach, then why the air of condescension?

    And because you seem to be the expert on what I should call myself, and since Afro-Caribbean and Indo-Caribbean are wrong, what are the proper words?

  • Gina

    Nikki is clearly an idiot.

  • I`am Not MADD

    Mw,only got a new york minute so think about this.
    “Nothing in the World is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and consientious
    —Martin Luther King Jr.—


    Not sure if there are enough locally where I am, but I would love to do it to support the businesses. I think other races do a great job of supporting one another and I think we should do the same.

  • Blair

    I tried this before but could only last a few weeks because I had to go back to school and did not have the time or energy to find black owned business near my school. But right now I am focus on educating myself and being able to be in a position to one day to shop at black owned businesses, and if I cannot find what I need, I will start my own.

  • i`am not mad

    Blair, here are 3 on-line books stores…..that are African-American owned.
    Have a great day.

  • TeamSKC

    Become a Lotto Master…Why rely on luck?

  • moss

    This is racism. Are we really trying to bring the country together?

  • WB

    I started a black business directory 13 years ago while in college. The directory took off and became more than I could handle as a college student. I dropped the site and assumed that someone would take my idea and run with it. 13 years later I see a lot of regional directories but nothing that’s attempting to function on a national level. is launching to provide an online source to quickly locate black businesses. With anything it takes support from everyone to make our businesses a success.

  • Jamillah

    I’m not sure what you are replying to, but if it was in regards to a grocery store Simply Wholesome at 4508 W Slauson Ave
    Los Angeles, CA 90043 (323) 294-2144 is black-owned.

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