If you are still looking for a way to celebrate Black History Month in practical terms, you can try supporting black-owned businesses in your areas — now as well as in the future.
COVID-19 restrictions have forced countless small businesses to struggle but for some Black-owned businesses the struggle began long before the pandemic.
Shawn Kenny, owner of Trea-Jah-Isle in the Little Jamaica district on Eglinton Avenue West, calls his community the “Harlem of Toronto.”
Kenny’s shop is one of the lucky businesses able to stay open during the double impact of the pandemic and the construction of the LRT construction and he is proud of his historical community.
“The first, mainly black-owned businesses and community in the city, with so much history, is around till this day,” Kenny says.
Kenny wants Torontonians to support black business for more than just a month.
“Buying from black-owned businesses helps to build the black community.”
Apps like Skip the Dishes and Uber Eats have a feature by which you can easily find Black-owned restaurants.
But there are a variety black-owned businesses in Toronto that are still open during lockdown. If you are looking for books, art, beer and even dance classes, you can support Black-owned and local businesses at the same time.
Here are five you can try in local areas:
1. A Different Book List, 779 Bathurst St., (416) 538-0889
This bookstore was opened in 1995 by Dr. Wesley Crichlow, publisher of the first Black, gay scholarly book in Canada. This store has literature for all ages written by bestsellers and independent authors. Their online services range from book deliveries to events hosting conversations with New York Times bestselling authors. Visit online at adifferentbooklist.com.
2. Fresh Paint Studio + Cafe, 1849 Danforth Ave., (647) 927-0764
Have your first virtual paint party care of Fresh Paint Studio + Cafe. This East York Studio and Cafe is known for “doing something different.” You can plan a virtual party or teach your baby to paint at a virtual baby art workshop. Visit online at freshpaintstudio.ca.
3. Laylow Brewery, 1144 College St.
If you want beer delivered from a local brewer, Laylow Brewery has both. This College West brewery brings Trinidad to Toronto with the unique mix of Sorrel, a Caribbean sweet and spicy drink, and beer. Recently added is the “Stay Home uniform” — comfy sweats with the Laylow logo. Visit online at shop.laylow.beer or email at email@example.com.
4. The S.P.A.C.E., 1324 Danforth Ave., (416) 850-1677
Online dance classes are great way to keep fit and learn something new. In 2004, Linette Doherty, opened The S.P.A.C.E. (School of Performing Arts for the Community of East York) as a way for students to build self esteem, and “develop determination and perseverance along with technique.” The owner also has an impressive acting resume, performing in Molly’s Game and The Cheetah Girls. Visit online at THE-SPACE.CA.
5. Tre-Jah-Isle, 1514 Eglinton Ave. West, (416) 787-7615
This Little Jamaica staple has everything. At TreJah Isle you can buy natural herbs and supplements, music, clothing and jewelry to make you feel like you’re in the islands when you wish you were. If you want a taste of Jamaica, stop by for some authentic Irish Moss served by a “true Rastafarian.” Visit online at treajahisle.com.
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