By Rosetta Miller-Perry and Wanda Miller-Benson

Public service and filling a void in the community service were the reasons behind the creation of the Tennessee Tribune three decades ago, and they are the motivation behind the establishment of the Tribune Stores at the BNA airport. We extensively studied developments occurring in Nashville, and examined both positive and negative aspects of those things being cited as reasons for Nashville’s designation as an “it city.” We felt it vitally important that the ongoing changes that we saw also reflect the city’s growing diversity, and the products and commerce that came from these communities. The Tennessee Tribune Stores will both showcase the paper’s  history in terms of design and architecture, but also serve the mainstream needs of national and international travelers. This constituency wants the opportunity to enjoy and sample goods and services along with the usual sodas, bottled water, magazines and other items,

The first Tennessee Tribune store, which opened November 19 and is located between Terminal C and D in the Southwest Airlines Hub, represents a significant step in Nashville acknowledging its diversity and the resources of different neighborhoods and areas. There are over 40 minority vendors in the store providing high quality products that range from snacks, jewelry, gourmet coffee blends, ready to drink beverages and top shelf wines and spirits. There’s also HBCU collegiate apparel, celebrity published works from local authors, traditional souvenirs,  items from the world renowned Winfrey Family Foods line and more. This store will give traditional African American businesses more opportunities for growth and brand expansion while gaining greater national recognition with Black travelers visiting the city via Southwest.

The two locations will ultimately comprise over 3,000 square feet of real estate space. The second location, which will open in the Spring of 2022 and be located at the entrance of the airport before going through security,  will offer cafe seating and be open to the public with grab and go food. It will also be a creative space with entertainment that serves as a great place for family and friends to await arriving passengers.  Unlike the first store it won’t require a ticket for admission. These two stores are the first elements in the Airport’s ongoing effort to expand and provide more opportunities for minority business.

It is highly unfortunate that there have previously been only three minority firms in the airport since its opening in 1937. The Tribune was delighted when airport officials met with us and indicated their desire to establish a Tennessee Tribune News Store in the new wing, one that would be an establishment selling  African American products along with mainstream products. Space was certainly no issue, and the Tribune’s track record of exemplary service, plus our statewide distribution,  made the Tribune a natural choice for the project.

The Tribune Stores are another major step in Nashville truly becoming an international city. While we’re grateful to be a major part of the effort, we want BNA to continue reaching out to Black and minority firms for other projects. In addition, the city as a whole must also continue expanding its outreach to minority businesses. Economic empowerment is just as important as political and social freedom, and the Tribune Stores are happy to play a role in helping increase it across this city.