Black Canadian nonprofit opens first retail store on Granville Island to help raise community profile


A nonprofit that helps black entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses has opened its first retail store on Granville Island.

The Black Business Association of BC (BBABC) celebrated the inauguration of UEL – which stands for Unity, Excellence and Legacy – on Saturday November 5th. The association says it has been looking for a space to increase representation and sell products made by the black Canadian community in British Columbia since its inception in 2019.

“We wanted to have a place and a platform to advertise products and showcase what we can do as a community,” said Clavia Alleyne, Vice President of BBABC.

The store sells paintings, food from local artisans, clothing, seasonings as well as products imported from other parts of Africa. (Gurpreet Kambo/CBC)

He said the retail store is based on a cooperative model where a percentage of the sale goes to the original artist or business owner.

“Part of our culture is based on food, so we have a section here with food that is made and produced by local artisans. We have clothes…we wear paintings, we wear art , seasonings, herbs and spices. We also carry handicrafts … made in Ghana,” he told CBC show host Stephen Quinn The first editionIn Monday.

He said the association was looking throughout the Lower Mainland for a retail outlet, but decided to set up shop on Granville Island to increase its representation in commercial areas of the city.

Alleyne said the association has been looking for an outlet since 2019. (Submitted by Clavia Alleyne)

“It’s important to let people know we’re here. We want to show…that our community is here and we’re thriving, and trying to be successful,” Alleyne said.

Caribbean spices from grandma’s recipe

Cullin David, co-owner of Calabash Bistro in Vancouver, said he thought he was dreaming when he first got a call from BBABC to sell some of his Caribbean spices at his retail store.

“It brought me incredible joy,” David told CBC News.

“The spice blends…have been refined over the past 13 years, but it’s from my grandmother’s recipes.”

Cullin David says the spices sold at the UEL store are a recipe passed down from his grandmother. (Submitted by Cullin David)

Cullin, who is half black and half Irish, said a store like UEL, which sells Ghanaian food and produce, was something he looked for growing up in Vancouver.

“It’s a place where they can see each other, where they can enjoy their culture. It’s very stimulating, motivating, and it brings me a lot of pride and joy as an individual.”

Nyla Alleyne, who works at UEL part-time, says she feels a sense of belonging when she sees products that represent the Black Canadian community in British Columbia.

Nyla Alleyne says she feels comfortable seeing a store like UEL in a predominantly white area like Granville Island. (Submitted by Clavia Alleyne)

“In a predominantly white area where there’s not a lot of representation for me, seeing something of my culture, having stuff where I can shop makes me feel like I belong…it’s something in which I can find much solace.”

The first edition4:25The Black Business Association of BC has opened its first outlet on Granville Island

“Unity, Excellence, Legacy” is a non-profit store owned by the Black Business Association of BC. It is dedicated to showcasing products from Black-owned businesses, artists and designers. CBC’s Gurpreet Kambo visited the store to find out more.

Five raised fists, each with a different colored skin, with the words

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