Support Black-Owned Businesses Now and Always
A directory of record stores, bookstores, restaurants, bars, and retailers in New York.
With mass demonstrations taking place statewide and beyond to protest the racial injustice and violence suffered by Black Americans for far too long, various resources have been circulating to connect New Yorkers to restaurants, bars, bookstores, retailers, and record stores, among other businesses, owned and run by the Black community. By making a conscious effort to invest in and promote Black-owned businesses, you are taking tangible, direct action towards sustainable social and political change. Here, we spotlight a variety of stores we love and share links to resources that offer a comprehensive list of Black-owned businesses across different industries and boroughs.
Since 2017, this Brooklyn record store has been selling every genre of music from reggae to soul to hip-hop, dance, and pop as well as a selection of vintage pieces. During Covid-19, owners Martin Brewer and Sonya Farrell have also been collecting personal protective equipment—gloves, masks, antibacterial soap, wipes, and hand sanitizers from neighbors to share with those experiencing homelessness in Central Brooklyn. You can support Halsey & Lewis by shopping from its virtual corner store and making a direct donation.
476 Lewis Ave, Brooklyn
This landmark record store has been a musical institution in the Bronx since 1982. Known for its extensive collection of Caribbean classics, Moodies Records also carries dancehall, hip-hop, reggae, and soul records. Right now, the best way to support is by calling the store directly to inquire and make a purchase.
3777A White Plains Rd, The Bronx; T. (718) 654-8368
This cool, minimalist concept store focuses on emerging womenswear designers including its own in-house line alongside lifestyle brands, and coffee. Owner, designer and Bed-Stuy local Kai Avent-deLeon sources pieces from local designers as well as artisans across the globe, and it is her exacting eye that gives the store its unique edge. While the retail space is closed for now, you can shop online and drop by to get a coffee to go from Tuesday through Sunday from 9am to 2pm.
343 Tompkins Ave, Brooklyn; T. (718) 484-8484
Since 2013, Brother Vellies has been keeping traditional African design practices and techniques alive through its focus on handmade, artisanal leather goods including handbags, shoes and accessories. This week, founder and activist Aurora James introduced 15 Percent Pledge, a new nonprofit organization calling on major retailers to pledge 15 percent of their shelf space to Black-owned businesses.
71 Franklin St, Brooklyn; T. (718) 389-3809
This thoughtfully sourced homewares and coffee shop in Brooklyn is always a pleasure to shop at and hang out in. In 2017, Ed Be and Jared Blake opened the store, and in doing so, combined years and experience collecting, selling, and trading designer furniture throughout New York. There is always a great record playing, incense burning, and coffee at the ready. The physical space is closed for now but the online store is open as always.
131 Manhattan Ave, Brooklyn; message through IG @lichennyc
Born out of a love of Black people and Black culture, BLK MKT Vintage (pictured above) is an antique store based in Bed-Stuy since 2014. Co-founders Jannah Handy and Kiyanna Stewart have created a space for collecting, celebrating, and preserving Black cultural artifacts and vintage collectibles. While the store is closed, the online shop is operating as usual with new pieces being uploaded daily. Gift cards are also available.
465 Marcus Garvey Blvd, Brooklyn; T. (347) 240-6694
RESTAURANTS & CAFES
Located in Clinton Hill, Sisters is an all-day eatery and bar focusing on classic American cuisine that is locally sourced and delicious. Sisters is currently offering a limited menu of takeout food (burgers, sandwiches, salads), beer, wine, and cocktails (micheladas, bloody marys). For now, daily options and hours can be found on the Sister’s Instagram page. Orders can be placed directly by calling or through Caviar. You can also show your support by purchasing a gift card or making a donation to help the staff.
900 Fulton St, Brooklyn; T. (347) 763-2537
For high-quality loose leaf tea, this Brooklyn tea house launched in 2017 by Alfonso Wright and Jamila McGill is where it’s at. Alongside their offering of 60-plus teas, espresso—and when the physical space is open, a place to escape and relax—Brooklyn Tea provides free expert-level tea education in an effort to draw new people into tea culture. Brooklyn Tea is currently offering free shipping within the US through its online store.
524 Nostrand Ave, Brooklyn; (347) 240-4281
Based in Crown Heights, this organic, plant-based Ethiopian restaurant fuses contemporary techniques with ancient recipes. Menu items available for takeout and delivery include cauliflower wings, the vegan sampler dish, vegetable sambusas (flaky pastry shells with vegetable stuffing), and the Timatim Fitfit (diced tomato, onion, jalapeno, shredded injera, and lime vinegarette), among other dishes. Ras’s temporary hours are Monday through Saturday, 2pm to 9pm.
739 Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn; (718) 622-6220
This Harlem institution has been packing in the crowds while doling out simply satisfying soul food (like fried chicken, bar-b-que ribs, and collard greens) for decades. Sylvia’s Restaurant was founded by Sylvia Woods in a historic pocket in Harlem in 1962, but beyond comfort cooking, built a reputation for being a safe and welcoming place for all people. It was an especially popular gathering place during the Civil Rights movement. Sylvia’s is open for pickup and delivery—family-style orders and drinks available.
328 Malcolm X Blvd, New York; (212) 996-0660
Scarr’s is a Lower East Side institution loved for its thin-crust pizza made with 100 percent all-natural ingredients (not a single tomato can is ever used), vegan Ceasar salad, and natural wine. The restaurant is closed for the time being but orders can be made for Scarr’s classic dishes through Caviar. You can also support by buying merch from the web store.
22 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002; T. (212) 334-3481
In the 1980s, Almaz Ghebrezgabher and her husband Amanuel Tekeste fled Eritrea to America for refuge and opportunity. While she was driving taxis to support her family, she auspiciously drove by a vacant restaurant space in the Upper West Side. Today, Massawa continues to be one of the city’s top African restaurants—the beef tebsi and vegetable sambusas are especially popular. Orders can be placed for takeout and delivery by calling the restaurant directly.
1239 Amsterdam Ave, New York; (212) 663-0505
This family-owned and operated indie bookshop and culture center sells a variety of titles by and about African Americans. Now is the time to get educated on Black history by reading past and present Black and people of color literary greats for guidance and clarity, and Sister’s Uptown has a curated book guide ready to go. ⠀
1942 Amsterdam Ave, New York; (212) 862-3680
The Lit Bar opened its doors on April 27, 2019 (National Indie Bookstore Day) and fast became a local gathering spot for locals to read, buy books, drink wine, and attend literary and community events. The current public health crisis has forced the store to close its doors but you can still peruse the carefully curated selection of general interest books and gift items for sale online.
131 Alexander Ave, The Bronx; (347) 955-3610
Located inside The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (a research library of the New York Public Library), The Schomburg shop is an emporium for items related to Black history and culture. Alongside a selection of classic and modern books for adults and children, you’ll find hundreds of items ranging from Black Power buttons to Afro-Vegan cookbooks to Harlem souvenirs.
515 Malcolm X Blvd, New York; 212-930-0869
Cafe con Libros translates as coffee with books, perhaps one of the best pairings of all time. While the brick and mortar presence of Cafe con Libros is closed due to Covid-19, you can show your allyship by ordering a book online, subscribing to the monthly podcast, Black Feminist & Bookish; buying an audiobook; and donating directly via the website.
OTHER NEW YORK-SPECIFIC RESOURCES
This curated guide to “Black Brooklyn’s people, places and products” documents the creativity, self-determination, history, and culture of the community by shining a spotlight on local Black-owned businesses.
EatOkra is an app dedicated to promoting Black-owned restaurants in NYC. The list is ever-growing, currently with over 2,000 entries.
New Yorker food critic Hannah Goldfield compiled a list of Black-owned restaurants and bars across the five boroughs with additional information on which are open for takeout and delivery during this time.
WORDS Edwina Hagon