Downtown Fayetteville continues to see the growth of Black-owned businesses.
Blue Moon Cafe owner Nathan Cuffee said he’s seen a significant increase in the number of Black business owners like himself downtown in recent years.
“There was a time when you didn’t have as many Black businesses and business owners, even in this area,” he said. “Historically, Hay Street didn’t have a lot of Black-owned businesses; there was a time period when that was mostly on the Person Street side. So, to be able to own a business on the Hay Street side shows the evolution and change and progression of our downtown area.”
Bianca Shoneman, Cool Spring Downtown District president and CEO, said she noticed a rise in the number businesses owned by Black women in the last year.
“We were extremely impressed with the number of Black women-owned businesses that (opened) new shops in downtown Fayetteville over the last year,” she said.
More:Fayetteville native follows her own path to open health and wellness boutique downtown
Downtown, there are 45 Black-owned businesses and 59 women-owned businesses, including an overlap of female Black-owned businesses.
Ebony McAllister, owner of Minxdiva’s Essentials, a health and wellness boutique, has multiple reasons that she thinks being a Black business owner is important.
“It’s important to be a Black business owner because of self-preservation, not begging for a seat at anyone’s table, economic development. I think ownership is very important,” she said. “My main thing is to kind of not depend on anyone else and most importantly, nothing moves without the Black dollars. I’ve noticed if I got my community behind me, I’m gonna be successful.”
The diversity of downtown Fayetteville business owners is something that Cuffee attributes to the work of the Cool Spring Downtown District.
“They have done a lot to help promote businesses, other ethnicities, to give assistance and direction to the various loans, grants, any of these things,” he said. “They have been an amazing support that wasn’t necessarily here when I got downtown six years ago.”
For aspiring Black business owners
McAllister advises other aspiring Black business owners to just go for it.
“Start where you are and take that first step,” she said. “Don’t put so much thought into the how, just start from where you are,” she said.
Samantha Thompson, owner of Fabulous Finds Boutique, a retail clothing store, advised others to build a network.
“Make your community, get to know people, don’t close yourself off to people,” she said. “I think Fayetteville can be a community where they definitely show support.”
Cuffee advises aspiring Black business owners to accept help and resources.
“There are so many more resources out there to help in the business process or starting a business than you’d ever think of,” he said. “So look for them, seek some of the local places that help out.”
Staff writer Akira Kyles can be reached at [email protected].
Support local journalism with a subscription to The Fayetteville Observer. Click the “subscribe” link at the top of this article.