Beech Companies released its first formal collection of Black-owned businesses in the form of an online directory this year.
The North Philadelphia Black Biz Directory organizes more than 100 Black-owned businesses in the North Central Philadelphia area by the type of service provided, listing descriptions and contact information for each.
Beech Companies, a multi-faceted community improvement and entrepreneurship organization, has been working to improve the lives of people from Broad to 20th streets and Montgomery Avenue to Thompson Street, according to its website.
The directory aims to support entrepreneurship and business growth in the North Central Philadelphia community. The Beech Business Bank and Temple’s Small Business Development Center are some of the businesses included in the directory. Some of the other categories in the directory include pharmacies, barbershops, contractors and real estate companies.
The directory was created as “a response to the growing interest in supporting Black-owned and operated businesses,” Beech Companies CEO Kenneth Scott said in a release.
The directory represents the Kwanzaa principle of “Ujamaa,” or cooperative economics. Its purpose is to encourage Philadelphia residents to be patrons at Black-owned businesses, increasing the number of businesses, employment and the economic power of Black communities in Philadelphia.
Christine Brown, the director of community services at Beech Companies, said the organization plans to print hard copies of the directory yearly and regularly update the electronic version in between editions. In the future, the project plans to expand the directory to include other areas of Philadelphia.
For some of the businesses listed in the directory released in early May, it’s too soon to tell if the efforts of Beech Community Services will increase patronage to their business.
Al Reid is the long-time manager of Coast 2 Coast, a cover band listed in the directory.
“I don’t think it’s going to be much help,” Reid said. “This has been done over and over before.”
To his knowledge, no new bookings of the band have been made as a result of being listed in the directory, he added.
However, some business owners, like Adrienne Ray, welcome the opportunity to be listed in the directory. Ray, 35, owns Curve Conscious, a consignment shop specializing in plus-size clothing in Brewerytown.
“When you’re talking about something niche like a plus-size consignment shop, people who use niche searches like ‘Black-owned’ or ‘woman-owned’ businesses are looking for something pretty particular, pretty cool, maybe something unique,” Ray said.
Like Beech Companies, Ray values the effort to promote Black businesses.
“[The directory is] a great and valuable tool for people who live in Philadelphia who want to support Black-owned businesses,” she added.