WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — The coronavirus pandemic is hitting Black-owned businesses hard. According to data from the "Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor,” there were just over one million Black-owned businesses at the start of 2020.
By mid-April, the ongoing effects of COVID-19 forced 41-pecent of Black businesses to shut down. That totals about 440,000 enterprises. Statistics also show women-owned businesses dropped by 25 percent.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, "Body and Soul" is still standing strong. It's a small Black-owned business on Trade Street in the heart of the Arts District in downtown Winston-Salem. Dana and Michael Suggs, wife and husband, founded "Body and Soul" in 2003. The cultural shop is four stores in one, including a book room, skincare and aromatherapy, art gallery, and boutique area.
In an interview with WFMY News 2, Dana Suggs admits the pandemic has been challenging. But, she says, the store has been able to survive with reasonably priced products, outstanding customer service, and ensuring the safety and health of all employees and customers.
“We set up new social distancing guidelines,” Suggs said. “We have markings on the floor, hand sanitizer all around, and the plastic shield. We're doing personal appointments. We've also become very aggressive with our website and Facebook. That's really made a good difference for us.”
Since February is Black History Month, Body and Soul is also attracting customers to the store through a weekly educational series about the importance of Black history and culture. That includes discussions and educational materials about the establishment of Black History Month by historian Carter G. Woodson. The weekly series also includes teachings about Black inventors and inventions, arts and entertainment, and more.
“You can't make up the past,” Suggs said. “We were closed for about three months. There's no getting that back. I'm just trying to look forward. I’m trying to still be very creative about how I can stay in touch and let our customers know that we care about them and we want them to be safe.”
Body and Soul is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The store address is 545 Trade Street, NW Suite 1H, Winston-Salem. To learn more about the store or for an online shopping experience, visit the Body and Soul website or Facebook Page.