In Q4 of 2019, local e-commerce retailer Black Food Bookstore & Culture Shop expanded its retail operations to include a physical storefront on the corner of Robinson Road & East Street. Today, the community-focused business is already seeing the benefits of combining its online presence with a brick-and-mortar outlet.
Black Food is a celebration of all things African. The brand collaborates with vendors and artisans in The Bahamas and throughout the African Diaspora to curate a unique collection of books, clothing and handcrafted jewelry sourced from Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, the United States, Jamaica, and The Bahamas.
When designing the retail outlet, co-owner Charo Walker-Morley focused on creating an atmosphere where literature, fashion and hard-to-find natural products could draw customers in and expand the conversations surrounding culture and community that began online.
“Black Food as a concept started back in 2008 as a way to engage the community on common issues that impact us as Africans throughout the Diaspora and how we should restore our connection with the continent. We began with an online platform to share information while selling a small selection of books and transitioned to hosting events within the community,” Walker-Morley explained.
“Our brand evolved to include many more books related to the concepts and theories emerging from our events and we soon began sourcing authentic African and African-inspired clothing, jewelry and products to sell at events and on our website.”
Sales across the three major categories of books, clothing/accessories and health cosmetics grew steadily and the business took steps to expand their retail product offering by becoming vendors at local events and hosting pop-up shops throughout the year.
“The pop-up shop format gave us valuable customer feedback and we started planning for a storefront where we could not only continue to source products from our network of global vendors but also partner with more local vendors to provide a space for them to showcase their products to a broader consumer base.”
Designing and outfitting the permanent storefront took about six months and a soft opening took place before the busy holiday shopping period. In addition to retail products, Walker-Morley is also looking at hosting book signings, poetry readings, movie nights and other events in the 600 sq. ft. space.
“Our goal is to continue the conversation as it relates to our culture. We want the storefront to be an extension of our mission of feeding the mind, body and soul of our community and we are starting to see that process take shape.”
For more information on Black Food Bookstore & Culture Shop, visit #343 Exquisite Square (Suite #2) or www.blackfoodshop, call 242-603-2665, 242-824-2525 or follow them on Facebook and Instagram @blackfoodshop.