By Afea Tucker
A citywide exhibition uniting of 12 QBIPOC (queer, Black, Indigenous and people of color) with 24 Black and Brown-owned businesses impacted by COVID 19 is bringing empty storefronts to life ahead of the holiday season.
VISIT PHILADELPHIA’s Love+Grit Storefronts Project launched an initiative on November 10 to both beautify the city and encourage people to shop at Black and Brown owned businesses.
“We’re ecstatic that the Love + Grit Storefronts Project is beautifying the city, building civic pride, shining a light on local QBIPOC artists and supporting the Black- and Brown-owned businesses that are so vital to our neighborhoods,” said Rachel Ferguson, chief innovation and global diversity officer for Visit Philadelphia. “The love and grit, creativity and resilience of Philadelphia’s artists and entrepreneurs are the soul of this city, and the campaign demonstrates what Philly does best: Turn loss into inspiration and empty spaces into opportunity.”
The Love + Grit Storefronts Project unveiling displayed beautiful original works of art from local artists and a chance for fans of the art to win nearly $2,000 in prizes from these vital businesses.
This effort will coincide with and be supported by the City of Philadelphia through its second year of the Shop Black Business Friday initiative, which takes place each Friday in December. The resolution, introduced by City Councilmember Cherelle L. Parker (D-9th Dist.), aims to support the jobs, revenue and economic impact generated by these essential businesses.
Throughout the winter holidays, these special works of art will be on display and appear in 14 storefronts in multiple neighborhoods, from Chinatown and Roxborough to Northern Liberties and Northwest Philly. Curated by photographer Conrad Benner (of the photo blog Streets Dept.) and curator Ginger Rudolph, the installation features works from Fabiola Laura, Tash Billington and Nazeer Sabree, just to name a few.
“It should come as no surprise that the holiday season is a make-or-break time for most retail businesses, and Uncle Bobbie’s is no different. We do everything we can to make the end of the year a huge success,” said Justin Moore, general manager at Uncle Bobbies. “That’s why we’re excited to be working with VISIT PHILADELPHIA on this initiative, and we’re hoping that having this platform will introduce us to future customers who will think of us when it’s time to buy gifts for their friends and family.”
Fans of the art can enter the Love + Grit Sweepstakes, giving them a chance to win a $2,000 prize package with more than 20 gifts curated from some of Philly’s best Black- and Brown-owned stores — many of which are featured in the exhibit.
Among the prizes: beauty and wellness products from A Man’s Cave and Ursula’s About Phace Rittenhouse Makeup Studio, clothes from The Modern Republic and Harriett’s Bookshop, and homewares from YOWIE and Roberto Lugo Studio. Participants can enter the sweepstakes at: www.visitphilly.com/storefronts or through the QR code featured on each of the 24 pieces of art. The contest is open through December 30, 2021.