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Black History Month: Celebrating African-American Contributions to Fashion and Food

Caroline Wu
Feb 3, 2023
Black History Month: Celebrating African-American Contributions to Fashion and Food

February ushers in the beginning of Black History Month, which gives us an opportunity to look at various locations and brands in the US that celebrate the history and accomplishments of Black Americans.

Telfar x Rainbow Collab: Crowds Battle Rain to Obtain Coveted Bags

Telfar is one of our hot brands to watch based on Gen Z social media activity.  Founded by Telfar Clemens, a Liberian-American, the brand was established in New York City in 2005. We’ve seen it on the likes of Beyonce and AOC, but really it’s available to all.  On Sep. 11, 2022, the Telfar x Rainbow collab pop-up store opened, and with it crowds galore. Over 3,500 units of the "Bushwick Birkin," which range from $150–$257, depending on the size, were on hand. And even more people stood in the rain in a line that snaked around three city blocks. Telfar’s motto, “Not for you, for everyone,” embodies the brand’s mission to reshape luxury fashion by changing who can access items deemed exclusive and desirable.  Looking at traffic for the Rainbow location on Fulton St in Brooklyn, the Telfar drop resulted in the highest visitation for H2 2022. We’ll keep a close eye on Telfar as it continues to be on fashion editors’ lists.

New Black Wall Street Market: Innovative Approach to Marketplace

Inspired by the historic Greenwood community in Tulsa, OK, known as “Black Wall Street,” Lecester “Bill” Allen, a philanthropist turned developer has turned a vacant Target store in Stonecrest, GA into a thriving 125,000 square foot marketplace where more than 100 minority entrepreneurs can sell their wares. New Black Wall Street Market includes tenants such as custom-jeweled clothing at Blingspirations, the Tree of Knowledge bookstore, Mattie’s Tea Room, and the Pink Lion Jazz Club.  There is also artwork featuring African royalty, hand-polished jewelry, and a Madame CJ Walker wing for beauty services. Visitors come from as far afield as Nashville and St. Louis, and vendors believe there is high potential in turning this into a tourism destination as well.

Since its opening in October 2021, New Black Wall Street Market has greeted over 100,000 guests (below) who dwell an average of 73 min.

Harold’s Chicken Shack: Expanding Around the Country

Harold and Hilda Pierce opened the first Harold’s Chicken Shack on the South Side of Chicago in 1950. They primarily served the city’s Black community that larger QSR chains had avoided, and the restaurant thrived. Over the years, Harold’s Chicken opened additional locations in Illinois, as well as Georgia, Indiana, Minnesota, Texas, and California. Harold’s Chicken Shack located on Halsted St in Chicago, IL has posted some impressive growth, with recent visits exceeding pre-COVID levels (below).

In fact, this location also faces some stiff competition from multiple other chains, such as Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Raising Cane’s, and KFC, but clearly has a loyal following.

Fatburger: Staying Strong in the midst of Inflation and Showing YoY growth in 2022

Fatburger was founded in 1952 by Lovie Yancey as a three-stool hamburger stand, and it has since become a wildly successful franchise with locations worldwide and 100+ restaurants in the U.S. alone. Although it has since been acquired by FAT Brands, the fast-food burger chain still continues to heavily advocate for racial equality.

As we have mentioned in prior editions of the Anchor, inflation had a stronger impact on full-service restaurants in 2022, although QSR chains started to see increased pressure in the second half of the year as consumers pushed back on menu price increases. Fatburger bucked this trend, however, as their locations saw YoY growth in the first half of the year, which continued into Q4 2022 and January 2023.

One Eleven Food Hall/Lexington Betty Smokehouse:  Strategic Community Development that Spotlights African-American Owned Dining

One Eleven Food Hall was the first food hall to open on the South Side of Chicago.  It had three African-American chefs who figured prominently with Laine’s Bake Shop, Exquisite Catering and Events and Majani Soulful Vegan Cuisine.  After some Covid-related hiccups, the decision was made to turn the 3 food court locations into one dining establishment.  Enter Dominique Leach, a former Four-Seasons trained, Food Network contestant and judge with her vision for smoked BBQ with soulful sides. Who could resist a mouthwatering brisket with sides like candy yams and Gouda mac ‘n cheese?  The meat is smoked 1 hour per lb in order to get the perfect marbling and melt-in-your-mouth taste. Tempting desserts include banana pudding made the old-fashioned way with Nilla wafers, and peach cobbler.  Named after her grandmother Betty from Lexington, the uptick in foot traffic at Lexington Betty Smokehouse as of its opening in April 2022 shows that this has been a wise choice for the location.

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Caroline Wu

Director of Research,

Caroline brings expertise in retail, CRE, entertainment, media, CPG, and tourism, and specializes in synthesizing broad datasets into actionable recommendations for growth. She has worked as the US Director of Consumer Insights at Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, VP of Retail Insights and Intelligence at Omnicom, and Senior Director at Kantar. Caroline holds an MA in Sociology from Stanford University and a BA in International Relations from Stanford University.

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