by Michael Brox, Candidate for Milwaukee County Supervisor, 5th Dist.
Did you know African Americans will spend over $500,000,000 in Milwaukee stores and malls during this Christmas season. Remember, the shopping season officially began on “Black Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving.
Half a billion dollars is a lot of money. Now just ask yourself, “What if we spent this money shopping in our own community?” Better yet, why not invest our hard earned money in our community all year ‘round and not just during Christmas time?
I recently had the opportunity to talk with several business owners throughout the community. Here’s what some of them had to say. Mo, at Quick-Stop on East North Avenue said people who own their businesses in the community almost always tend to hire people from the neighborhood.
Mo, also stated that because of the support he has gotten from the people he serves, he has been able to make loans to customers as well as support local events like neighborhood festivals and block parties.
Dave, the owner of Ed’s Menswear since 1981–and located on Wisconsin Avenue–said people should support community businesses because of the personal service stores like his provide that you can’t get at the large chain stores.
For example, not only does Dave sell a variety of shoes and clothing, he also provides tailoring and shoe repair. Oh, did I also mention that Dave hires from the community as well?
Since I was downtown, I visited the Grand Avenue Mall. The first thing I noticed while at the mall was the diversity of merchandise shoppers could choose from. I went into a little shop called “Accents & Decor.” I identified myself to it’s owner Joe, and we struck up a conversation. Joe told me his shop had been in the mall for about 12 years. He also mentioned the personalized service, competitive prices, and the wide variety of products he sells. As I looked around the store, not only did I notice the wide array of merchandise, I didn’t see anything over $20. Two shoppers in the store, Lakisha Anderson and Beatrice Lewis, told me they had been shopping the mall and they thought that it was beautiful and they were able to by items there for every culture. Oh. Did I mention Joe also hires people from within our very own community?
My final stop at the mall was “Brew City Brand.” I spoke to a gentleman there named Jack who informed me his store had been located at the mall for 25 years. Jack told me the store is supported by people from all over Wisconsin and Illinois. Jack added his business is stable and that safety was not an issue with him at the store. That was good news for me to here. Jack’s store sells customized T-shirts, sweatshirts, and other related articles. As he puts it, “we sell alot of weird and cool stuff .”
Jack stressed the point that small businesses give back to the community, unlike the big national chain stores, where the money leaves our community.
Oh, did I mention that Jack also hires people from the community.
Finally, I had the opportunity to speak collectively with a group of African American businesses people on the north end of Milwaukee. My friend Darrell who owns a store on 11th and Atkinson, and Jermaine and Shonta Cameron who not only own a barber at 3570 N. 10th Street (both are master barbers), but are web designers, had much to say.
All three of these individuals spoke very passionately about the importance of keeping businesses in the community going, especially Black businesses. They said even though Black businesses does supply jobs to Black people, Black businesses must support each other.
Said Jermaine: “Black businesses should think as a collective and should stop stereotyping Black businesses as being inferior to other businesses.”
In conclusion, if a business is providing quality customer service, an excellent product, jobs in the community, is centrally located, and giving something back to it’s community why not support them?
Happy Kwanza, Merry Christmas, and may God Bless each and everyone.