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Black ABQ business owners are seeing an outpouring of support

Frank Willis, owner of Frank’s Famous Chicken & Waffles, says business at his shop, 400 Washington SE, has doubled in the past week. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Local black-owned businesses have been thrust into the spotlight as near-daily protests continue in Albuquerque and around the country in response to the killing of 46-year-old George Floyd, a black man who died at the hands of Minneapolis police.

At Frank’s Famous Chicken & Waffles, business has doubled in the past week, according to owner Frank Willis.

“It’s nonstop,” he said.

Willis, who continues to limit his business on 400 Washington SE to take-out orders, said he’s thankful for the support for him and other black business owners.

“We’re really appreciative of this in this time when everyone is struggling,” Willis said. “It’s good to have the support of everybody in the city.”

In the past week, lists of local black-owned businesses have made the rounds on social media with the intention to drive economic support to Albuquerque’s black community in the wake of the Black Lives Matter demonstrations.

“The goal was to give these businesses exposure and new business, and to ultimately know that the community supports them,” said graphic design artist Kait Tate, whose Instagram post of a list of black-owned businesses in Albuquerque has been shared thousands of times over several days.

Tate said people are continuing to tag and include businesses not on her original list.

The increase in interest extends beyond restaurants.

In the past week, Flower Loop owner Shunnae Love said she’s seen a 50% increase in business and interest in her services.

Love said she thinks the increased interest stems from people wanting to show support for the issues at hand and for black business owners like her. Love said the interest in her floral design business – headquartered in her home and run via flowerloop.net – is coming from a diverse group of people who may not have been aware of her services before this week.

“It’s hopeful and it’s encouraging because I think, for the first time since I’ve been alive,” she said, “the support isn’t just one race. It’s a multitude of races and cultures and people that want to see humanity work.”

Cathryn McGill, founder and director of the New Mexico Black Leadership Council, said her phone has been ringing all week with people asking what they can do to support Albuquerque’s black community.

She said she’s suggesting people get involved with organizations, make a point to patronize black-owned businesses regularly and continue to work toward positive change.

While McGill said there is an unprecedented number of people reaching out, she hopes it is not just temporary support.

“We want to make sure that that desire goes beyond the time when this particular news cycle ends,” she said.

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