Perhaps another wake up call (but do we rise? Too many of us are still listening to Hillary's siren song). Karibu is likely the biggest stand-alone African American owned and operated bookstore in North America. A legitimate chain. Independent. The bulwark against Barnes & Noble, Borders and gulp...Wal Mart. It was a model for black small business. Here, two young brothers literally do what Mr. White Man says and pull themselves up by bootstraps and build something. No, not a bunch of insipid incense carts that also sell Farakhan quotations. Real stores. Big inventories. Vendor to some of the huge general book events in Baltimore and the Nation's Capital. But now, closing. Sad, evil thing that's happening.
Black shops dropping like flies...but why? Okay, this is a tough economy, I know. There're always gong to be business goblins re: supply, finance, control, clashes of management personalities--from Time-Warner down to the mom and pop deli. Nevertheless, we should ponder an unspoken business model question. Think about it this way: there's always a niche, under the radar. But when you're forced to push the street fiction and the more simplistic/crass chicklit/soap opera stuff and Video Vixen nonfiction--the same product as the huge chains--and there's no price break, better service, more convenience, etc., the chains will win every time. Ergo, put out a unique product and enhanced service. Yes there are large "white" indie stores barely scraping by, but that's how they do scrape by. Different selections, intelligent choices, price breaks, expert staff doing handselling. Special events. Hell, look at the tiny specialty mystery shops which stand the test of time, the comic book stores, even the antiquarian shops. I know that's easier said than done, but it's worth the effort when the alternative is shuttering these businesses, liquidating the stock and Wal-Mart-ing everything in sight. In my D.C.-Balto. area, brimming with black professionals, students, educators, military folk with an education (in other words--officers!!!)entrepreneurs, mid-level managers to corporate VPs, this state of affairs is especially troubling.