The Community Common’s at MOA: Stores
It was my birthday, and I was planning on celebrating at home in New Orleans, but I’m still in the Twin Cities, so I decided to celebrate it in a way that reflected my values while being a tourist and splurging a bit. I wanted to support black-owned businesses, so I explored the Mall of America to check out the Community Commons. This rent-free space spotlights new locally and BIPOC-owned small companies in the Twin Cities. Community Commons retailers benefit from no rent for the initial three months and, once their three months are up, can continue selling inside the space with percentage rent. After their six-month period in the Community Commons ends, business owners can be invited to open an independent space at the mall.
Each business in the Community Common’s has its area with the brand name prominently featured, allowing shoppers to buy in one location if desired. We spent hours browsing through the beautiful clothes, shoes, and homemade products in the store, talking to the staff, and learning more about the Community Commons and those like it in the Twin Cities. Featured brands include luxury shoe brand Coco Nashay; clothing and footwear brand Edicion Especial; pudding vendor Highly Flavored Delicacies; fashion, beauty, and hair products by House of Bella; African women’s clothing boutique House of Queens; t-shirt line Joe Peezy Wear; organic beard oil by Mike’s; works by Tipton Hammond Arts; streetwear-inspired designs by Under Dawg, women’s fashion Arwa Fashion, Latin cultures with local influence into clothing by Corazon Clothing, youth-driven business clothing line, Honor Roll Athletics, Handcrafted handbags Mars Jameson, African coffees and blend Safari Pride, Coffee, and fashion jewelry Susana Mendez Jewelry.
The House of Queens Boutique
We arrived at the mall and went directly to the second floor and were impressed with the inviting, vibrant storefront and the vibe of the businesses. The first store that caught our attention was a store selling beautiful African women’s clothing boutique House of Queens. As we walked in, we were greeted by the warm smile of the owner, a strong, confident, beautiful black woman who welcomed us with open arms.
The boutique offered a variety of African-designed dresses, clothing, and accessories made with different fabrics, such as Ankara, Batik, and Kitenge, among others, in bold, bright colors and intricate designs and patterns. African-designed attire is more than just a fashion statement; they represent a rich cultural heritage and a history of tradition and serve as a means of identity and expression. The unique features of these dresses, their bold colors, intricate designs, and different fabrics used make them an ideal representation of African culture.
Lavish Shea Butter
After we left the Commons, we roamed the mall and met another entrepreneur, a young black college student with glowing pretty brown skin. Unlike the others who teamed up in the Common’s space, this business was a kiosk. The young entrepreneur asked if we would like a sample of her products, and as we slathered our skin with the luxurious cream, she shared the story behind her store, Lavish Shea Butter. she shared with us her passion for skin and beauty products and how she wanted to create a platform for black estheticians and makeup artists to showcase their work. The shea butter is shipped from Africa, making it a better quality than the version sold in most stores. I brought a small 2oz jar of the Whipped Shea butter and was amazed at The light, airy consistency that quickly absorbed into my skin. The Lavish Shea Butter is the best moisturizer I put on my skin. It smells delicious too.
My shopping experience
It was refreshing to see them so well-represented in a mall where wealthy white people and large corporations own most stores. It was an eye-opening experience to Shop for unique items, beautiful designs, and products from black entrepreneurs who share your sense of style and culture.
At the end of my birthday shopping spree, I felt fulfilled, knowing I had spent my birthday celebrating and supporting black businesses at the Mall of America. It was a memorable evening, and I left the mall feeling grateful for the opportunity to celebrate my birthday with a culturally enriching experience through vibrant cultural exchanges.
Visit the Community Commons on the south end of the mall’s second level by Macy’s. https://mallofamerica.com/