Black Owned Ice Cream Shop Increases Sales by 300% after #BlackCashMob
By Cassiopeia Uhuru
It’s 2020, we are in the middle of a pandemic, Black Lives are REALLY starting to Matter and we just celebrated Juneteenth. So me and my girls decided to take a break from the madness and feel normal again. We wanted to feel more like women. We wanted to go out, have a good time, eat some good food and drink a little wine. The weather in Chicago has been great and we have been missing all of the amazing and fun festivities that #summertimechi usually has to offer. So we put on our cute and fashionable masks and take a safe girls night out to a 5-star, Black owned restaurant in Hyde Park called Virtue.
Virtue sits perfectly on the corner of 53rd street and Harpers Court and has plenty of outdoor seating that gives you the best view of all of the beautiful people that flow through this historic community. And the seven of us had a great time catching up, laughing, people watching and enjoying gourmet soul food where the meat melts off of the short ribs, the greens are divinely seasoned and the mac is a perfect blend of your great grandma cooking in an upscale restaurant. Can you tell that I LOVED the food?
Anyway…. after we had such a great meal, we definitely wanted some dessert and Kilwins ice cream shop is literally around the corner. The majority of our girls head right on over while me and my BFF, Mae have to run our mouth talking to a familiar face that we bumped into on the way out. We then quickly try to catch up to find that ALL of them are happily licking away at ice cream cones and waffle bowls. So Mae and I look at them like DAMN, y’all could’ve called us and took our order too but we just rolled our eyes, turned around and started to walk through the door and order for ourselves. Unfortunately, Kilwins had just closed. Now we are steaming mad but Mae is always ready to find a way. While looking through the window, showcasing racks of carmel covered taffy apples and bars of perfectly sliced fudge, she immediately notices someone in the back and starts to knock hard at the door and begs if we can come and get orders. She couldn’t wait to tell them how our friends left us out to dry and in order to save their lives, to please take our orders. I tried to flex a little bit and tell the brother that I co own a directory that promotes Black owned business. He paused, looked in the air and hesitantly replied, “I’ve heard of it” and he let us in.
YAAAAASSS… we are in and I can’t wait to order a scoop of salted caramel and a scoop of chocolate chip cookie dough with caramel drizzled on top in a waffle cone. My little piece of heaven. Once it was time to pay, something inside of me said check on them and ask them how their business is doing. The cashier immediately replies that they weren’t doing well at all and my heart begins to drop. Now, although COVID alone has hit business really hard, there have been certain types of businesses that have thrived during this pandemic like liquor stores and ice cream shops. I think they offer a sense of comfort for people during scary times. So it was hard for me to grasp that such an AMAZING ice cream store like Kilwins wasn’t doing well especially since another Black owned ice cream shop not too far away has had lines around the corner since COVID hit. As the conversation continues, the owner Jackie comes over and tells me more bad news about their Michigan avenue location being looted. Now, most of the looters in Chicago didn’t hit Black owned businesses but lots of people didn’t know that Kilwins is a franchise and these particular locations are Black owned.
After taking all of this information in, I knew that I had to do something, so I pulled out my phone started a facebook live, told their story and put out a call to action that we #BlackCashMob their Hyde Park Store to help bring in financial support and gain awareness. It was so beautiful to see that the video got over 500 shares, 21,000 views and hundreds of comments from people ready to support. So we set up the #BlackCashMob for the next week on a Thursday at 2pm, promoted it and asked people to show up on that day and spend at least $10. The turn out was amazing! With the help of Keeana Barber, Bryant Thompson, Afrika Porter and Melanie Brown, there were over 100 people that came out to support, socialize and enjoy delicious ice cream. Community leaders, activists, families, personal friends, the South East Chamber of Commerce and even a dog showed up to do their part and literally put their money where their mouth is.
The summer months are naturally great for Kilwins in Hyde Park but we were so excited to get the report back from them saying that Thursday, July 2, 2020 was their greatest sales day in their history. Their sales increased by 300%! Basically they made what they made last year + what they made last year + what they made last year + what they made last year all in ONE DAY! And to put the cherry on top (pun intended), Kilwins still wants to contribute back to the community. Today is National Ice Cream Day and it has deeply saddened Jackie that all of the graduates of 2020 truly didn’t get to celebrate in the traditional fashion, so they are giving away FREE ice cream to ALL graduates that come into their Michigan location with proof of graduation!
I truly hope that this type of support doesn’t fade away as newer more sensational headlines appear. It’s time to make the support of Black owned businesses a part of our muscle memory. Just imagine the wealth that we would bring back to our communities if we were more proactive in supporting BOBs. We are powerful people and those numbers show that we can truly make change. Keep the flame burning and here’s to a brighter 2020!