Bookstore pioneer and fixture of the North Nashville Black business district, Yusef Harris, is urging local area Black businesses and the African American community to ‘buy Black’ this year instead of (or in addition to) shoppers’ regular mad dash to national chain department stores this Thanksgiving weekend. Harris is the long-time proprietor of Alkebu-Lan Images Bookstore at the corner of Jefferson St. and 28th Ave North, and has been providing positive Black apparel, educational resources, children’s books, jewelry, natural health and beauty products as well as handcrafted art from various parts of Africa, particularly Kenya, for nearly 30 years.
Harris just launched the Alkebu-Lan Images online store in October. Patrons will be able to purchase many of the store’s items, including some with special discounts, online with free shipping this week and throughout the holiday season. Why shop with Alkebu-Lan for coveted items such as Christmas cards, 2015 calendars or children’s books?
“National chains markup prices all year long on various items, then ‘discount‘ items which were inflated to begin with,” Harris said. “Businesses like Alkebu-Lan Images bookstore don’t receive the same discounts and pricings as national chains. Furthermore, other retailers are not going to provide the selection of pro-Black resources in one location with the level of concierge service we provide.”
Harris has been busy this year, sponsoring such events as the National Black Child Development Conference held in Detroit this past October and several other events at HBCUs as well as sponsoring prominent educator, child psychologist, and author Dr. Umar Johnson (Psycho-Academic Holocaust) during Fisk’s W.E.B. Dubois lecture series. Currently Alkebu-lan is on a campaign to stock churches and schools with materials. Books like, There’s Nothing Wrong with Black Students, and his Crump Black Fairytale series are a hit among educators and parents.
“Your large book distributors and chains will not have these resources,” Harris said, “and if they do, those resources will not be consolidated into one place and presented by age appropriateness as we are able to do.”
The store carries some current heavy hitters like Steve Harvey’s new Act Like a Success and classic works like Carter G. Woodson’s Miseducation of the Negro. DVDs of contemporary contributors to the Black education conversation like Johnson and Black child advocate Dr. Baruti Kafele are nestled within the store’s thousands of product offerings as well.
To market the ‘Black Friday Means ‘Buy Black’ movement, Alkebu-lan will send several e-blasts to the community and plans to incorporate aggressive radio, print and social media promo.
“We want all Black owned businesses, especially in the North Nashville community, to participate,” Harris said. “This is a much needed movement, and we hope to plant a seed of change in the minds of the Black consumer. This is how we survive as small businesses, and this is how we survive as a community.”
(Alkebu-Lan Images Bookstore is located at 2721 Jefferson St. Nashville, Tenn. 37208. Ph.: 615-321-4111; website .