Protesting, signing petitions and donating are all ways to support the Black Lives Matter movement, but these options may not be available to all. Protests aren’t happening in every area of the country and donating can become expensive. During a time when social media is dominated by what everyone else is doing to support the movement, one may ask, “What can I do to help?”
For those who want to help, shopping at Black- or Brown-owned businesses is an easy way to start. The Shenandoah Valley is a diverse area that's full of a variety of restaurants and stores that represent different cultures and have diverse owners. Local businesses like these make supporting Black Lives Matter easier. Here are some Black- and Brown-owned businesses located in the Valley.
Merge Coffee Company was established in 2017 by four friends. After selling coffee online for over a year, their cafe was opened in Harrisonburg. The name “Merge” came from the fact that the owners come from different cultures and backgrounds but came together to make this coffee company. Responsibility and community are two of the company’s core values. Along with these, Merge also ensures its coffee is made with environmentally friendly practices.
Cuban Burger is a popular restaurant within the JMU and Harrisonburg community. According to Cuban Burger’s website, first-generation Cuban-American Steve Pizzaro founded the restaurant and puts his passion for food and drink into the business. In 2015, Cuban Burger was awarded a spot in the top 12 burgers in Virginia. Along with burgers, the restaurant serves fritas, tapas, Cuban sandwiches and a variety of cocktails.
Sweet Joy’s Cakes and Desserts was created by the Braziel family. The youngest member, Naomi, started watching her father decorate cakes at a young age and was inspired. Over the years, she’s taken that hobby and transformed it into a passion. With her cake decorating skills and her mother's knowledge of flavors, Naomi’s been able to make Sweet Joy’s Cakes and Desserts. The business offers cakes, specialty cakes, cupcakes, candy apples, cookies and other sweet treats and is located on Garbers Church Road in Harrisonburg.
According to Hope Eritrean & Ethiopian Restaurant’s website, their main goal is to provide customers with the most authentic Eritrean and Ethiopian cuisine. The menu is filled with foods that bring cuisine from Africa straight to the customer’s plate. Along with the food, Hope Eritrean also educates customers about African culture. Its website claims that customers will experience the hospitality and warmth of Africa. The restaurant is located in downtown Harrisonburg.
Salon Eleven opened in 2008 with the goal of offering customers a quality salon experience at a reasonable price. On its website, the owners pledge to make the customer’s visit fun, help make their hair healthier and fashionable in a way that works for them and teach them how to achieve great results at home with one-on-one counseling and seminars at the salon. The salon is located on Liberty Street in Harrisonburg, and appointments can be made by phone.
The 150 Franklin Gallery was established in 1995 as the first multicultural fine arts gallery in Harrisonburg. The gallery features works by local and national artists in a variety of mediums such as watercolors, ceramics and sculpture. Along with artwork, the gallery offers community activities from readings and book signings to civic and social meetings. 150 Franklin is located in downtown Harrisonburg and is currently featuring a diverse array of exhibits.
Prepopsterous Gourmet Popcorn was founded by Tisha McCoy-Ntiamoah. From working in a popcorn shop in high school to owning her shop now, McCoy-Ntiamoah says on her website that she’s loved everything about the popcorn business since day one. In spring 2015, she won one of the top prizes in the Shenandoah Valley Small Business Development Center’s What’s Cooking competition for her business plan. In fall 2015, she officially established her business. Prepopsterous offers a wide range of sweet and savory flavors and even has the option to submit one’s own flavor combination for gifts and favors.
Key Z Candles is located in Staunton. All of the candles from Key Z are handmade and come in different colors and scents. Some of the most popular scents include apple maple bourbon, lavender, hemp, juniper breeze and honeysuckle jasmine. The main goal of Key Z is to have an item that many love available at an affordable price. The store is located in Staler Square in Staunton and offers free local deliveries.
Now more than ever it’s important to support Black- and Brown-owned businesses. This is by no means an exhaustive list of the businesses in the Shenandoah Valley, but if one wants to do their part and support the Black Lives Matter movement, these stores and restaurants are a good place to start.
Contact Morgan Vuknic at email@example.com. For more on the culture, arts, and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Instagram and Twitter @Breeze_Culture.