Black-owned businesses have seen some of the steepest financial hardships out of anybody in the country, according to a New York Fed study. Since the start of the pandemic, the communities they reside in have seen the highest infection and mortality rates, which has a direct impact on stores and restaurants. Here are three black-owned businesses near campus that students can check out.
316 N. Milwaukee Street
Located downtown in the Historic Third Ward district, Sneex offers a wide variety of clothes, shoes and other accessories for men, women and kids. For shoes, they carry brands like Adidas (including Yeezys), Dr. Martens, Reeboks, Pumas and many more. You can also find clothing brands like Reigning Champ, Ksubi, Levi, Daniel Patrick and Champion at owner Eric James’ store.
They have a wide variety of accessories to buy as well, including Comme des Garçons fragrances, Gucci eyewear, Druthers beanie’s, candles and different brands of backpacks. Since Sneex offers several designer brands, it is on the pricier side. They have been in business since 2018 and have been able to survive the COVID-19 pandemic so far. Students can easily get there by walking or by taking the BLU Line bus east towards the lake.
Bronzeville Collective MKE
339 W. North Avenue
Bronzeville Collective is located near the Black Holocaust Museum on the northside of downtown, but still within reach for students. Just take the BLU Line bus north before hopping on the 21 bus. The trip there takes around 30 minutes by bus or less than 10 minutes by car. This business is comprised of over 25 local brands that are almost 100% Black or brown-owned.
Their mission, according to their website, is to “highlight local talent and give them a place to thrive not only creatively, but financially.” Their products are similar to what you might find on Etsy: predominantly handmade items from small vendors looking to give their products some exposure. Bronzeville Collective offers items like earrings, necklaces, bracelets, bath salts, body scrubs, pins, journals, candles, mugs, clothing and lots of different kinds of artwork. Prices vary by item, but most can be found under $20.
3536 W. Fond du Lac Avenue
One of the most iconic buildings in the city of Milwaukee is the Sherman Phoenix. It is a cultural hub for small businesses, particularly for owners of color. Students can get there with just a short 10-minute car ride or by riding the BLU Line bus north for about 25 minutes. The story of the Sherman Phoenix is almost as good as the food and shops they have available in their complex. During the Sherman Park riots, protesters burned down what was a BMO Harris Bank, among many other buildings back in 2016. After the dust had settled, community members in the Sherman Park neighborhood decided to transform that rubble into a space filled with light and energy. Four years later, it’s now one of the staples of Milwaukee’s northside.
The Sherman Phoenix offers a wide range of beauty services like 2 Kings Barbershop, The Lash Factory, Theresa Do My Nails and 9th Cloud massage therapy, among others. They also offer several different kinds of shops ranging from customized shoes to creative art spaces.
Not only do these places above provide high-quality products, but they are important to the communities they reside in. COVID-19 has had a detrimental impact on organizations all across the country, but the ones that are Black-owned have been disproportionately affected. Black History Month is a great time to recognize Black-owned stores, shops, boutiques, restaurants and any other local businesses, but supporting them should be a year-round activity.
This story was written by Quinn Faeth. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.