By Thomas Sheffield
March 1st marked the end of Black History Month but marked the beginning of the first Black-owned beauty supply store in a Madison strip mall. The grand opening of Roots Hair & Beauty brought hundreds of customers from all over Nashville and middle Tennessee. The business brought in an estimated $50,000 of sales in one day. The company has had proven success in Chattanooga and brought that success to middle Tennessee. The beauty supply market has been cornered by other ethnic groups and have offered customers limited options. These stores lacked the selection and a great customer service experience yearned for by black customers for years.
According to nielson.com, African Americans spend $54.4 million dollars on hair and beauty aids. That is 85% of the total market. Naturally, a store owned by and servicing African Americans is not something new and should be successful if and when it is owned by African Americans. Other ethnic groups have opened restaurants, stores and businesses in our communities and have often been successful. Many of these groups do not live in our neighborhoods or contribute to our well being but are more than willing to take our money home to their families and communities on the other sides of the tracks.
There are countless convenient stores, sandwich shops, restaurants, check cashing, discount tobacco and yes beauty supply businesses in black neighborhoods. Do these owners live in these neighborhoods? Do they send their kids to our schools? Do they do business with our small businesses? Are they willing to support us as we try to add value to our community? More than likely, the answer is no. They show us little or no love. But if we threaten their business or ability to be successful, there is a problem. We have been victims of harassment, stares, poor customer service and being followed as we do business in these stores.
We have had issues getting these stores to support black communities. Non profit groups have to beg and plead for support of their projects and fundraisers. It’s like pulling teeth to get them to support the people that support them. Even when we are on our last dollar, we are willing to do business as we buy gas, food and even buy lottery tickets from them, they are slow to support us.
I pray we continue to support Roots Beauty & Supply. I hope in return, they support us. I hope they continue to employ knowledgable, friendly, and helpful employees. I hope they pay these employees a livable wage and give back to the community. I pray more people open other businesses that also practice good corporate citizenry our community. We need and deserve more options as we continue to build sustainable businesses and show this state, this country and this world, we are more than a beauty supply.
Please feel free to contact me firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you can follow me on Twitter @tcsheff. #Resist #WordsActionChange