How Black Independent Store Owners In The 1920s Created A Movement To Stay Competitive

1 Posted by - October 6, 2015 - BLACK BUSINESS, Looking Black On Today

For two months in the spring of 1929, a group of grocery store owners in Winston-Salem organized public lectures, meetings, exhibits, and food tastings that attracted large audiences and national attention. What was all the fuss about?

The grocers were joining a new cooperative business group called the Colored Merchants Association (CMA), which had begun in Alabama. On April 17 they announced in a local newspaper an ambitious plan to create “a movement looking towards the salvation of the Negro independent grocery stores, through cooperative buying and teaching the lesson and value of advertising.” National Negro Business League leaders promoted the grocers’ efforts as a national model for African American businessmen working in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

To understand why the Winston-Salem activities got so much attention, it is important to know about changes in the grocery business in the 1920s and about the impact of segregation on African American store owners and shoppers.

In the 1920s, segregation laws and customs restricted public activities based on race. Signs marked such spaces as public bathrooms, train station waiting rooms, or sections in movie theaters for “white only” or “colored only.” (The terms colored and Negro were widely used for nonwhites and for persons of African descent, respectively, in the early twentieth century.) Despite the restrictions, African Americans started successful business communities and created vibrant neighborhoods in the segregated South. Local grocery stores became the most common small businesses run by merchants. That’s a big reason why the Winston-Salem grocers made such an impact. In 1929 the city directory listed 373 grocery stores. African Americans operated more than 30 percent (128 of them), making up by far the largest group of black businessmen there. These store owners faced new challenges because of important changes in the retail trade.

Chain stores—such as Sears, Roebuck and Company, F. W. Woolworth, and the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company (A&P)—grew a lot in the early 1900s. A chain is a company that runs many stores in different places, operating under the same name and selling the same merchandise. Chain stores created new ways to sell groceries—which meant stiff competition for smaller stores.

Read More @


  • g May 10, 2019 - 6:22 pm

    My developer is trying to persuade me to move to .net from PHP.

    I have always disliked the idea because of the costs.
    But he’s tryiong none the less. I’ve been using WordPress on a number of websites for about a
    year and am concerned about switching to another platform.
    I have heard great things about Is there a way I can import all my wordpress posts into it?
    Any help would be really appreciated!

  • how to download minecraft May 13, 2019 - 12:02 am

    Have you ever considered creating an ebook or guest authoring on other
    sites? I have a blog centered on the same ideas you
    discuss and would love to have you share some stories/information. I know my visitors would
    appreciate your work. If you’re even remotely interested, feel free
    to shoot me an email.

  • minecraft download May 14, 2019 - 10:22 pm

    I’m not that much of a online reader to be honest but your sites really nice, keep it up!

    I’ll go ahead and bookmark your site to come back later on.
    All the best

  • gamefly free trial June 5, 2019 - 5:08 am

    Thanks to my father who told me on the topic of this weblog, this web site is really awesome.

  • gamefly free trial June 6, 2019 - 7:36 pm

    Howdy! This blog post could not be written any better!
    Reading through this post reminds me of my
    previous roommate! He always kept talking about this. I most certainly will forward this information to him.
    Fairly certain he’ll have a great read. Many thanks for

  • yalova son dakika haberleri June 8, 2019 - 3:56 am

    Between me and my husband we’ve owned more MP3 players over the years than I can count, including Sansas, iRivers, iPods (classic & touch), the Ibiza Rhapsody, etc. But, the last few years I’ve settled down to one line of players. Why? Because I was happy to discover how well-designed and fun to use the underappreciated (and widely mocked) Zunes are.