Nonprofit in Alberta Arts District working to add more businesses with diverse owners

Published: May. 6, 2022 at 4:48 PM PDT
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PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) - The Alberta Arts District is a stretch in northeast Portland that is chalk-full of independent shops. But if you ask two new business owners who are black women on the street, they said there could be even more.

“It definitely needs to be open to a lot more people,” Holy Beanz coffee owner Shalimar Williams said. “Making it available and cost-efficient for everybody.”

The owner of Queendom Cuts, another new business, said there are more businesses on her wish list.

“I would like to see soul food options on Alberta (Street),” owner LaSheera Chambers said.

Williams opened her business late last year. She said she’s trying to bring back the atmosphere on the street like it was as she grew up.

“When people come in here, they feel like they’re back in northeast (Portland) in the (1980s) and the (1990s),” she said. “Even the (1950s), there’s pictures back there.”

That’s what board chair Devon Horace of the nonprofit Alberta Main Street is working on too. He is trying to increase the number of businesses with minority owners.

“A lot of black-owned businesses and minority businesses feel like they can’t afford to be on Alberta Street,” Horace said.

The goal is to be a prospective business’ advocate so they can move in on Alberta Street.

“There (are) opportunities to partner with landlords, partner with developers to see with their new buildings, how can we incorporate some kind of retail space?” Horace said.

He said these businesses have a high chance of success because they are joining a diverse economy.

“Let’s be real here, people who live around Alberta Street, they have a certain means of living whatever class you’re in,” Horace said.

Chambers said she opened her barber shop because it was hard to find a place in Portland to cut the hair of one of her sons, who has two different hairstyles.

“I noticed a lot of people just felt like I was a godsend because they didn’t have to wait in the barber shop for hours to get two different services from two different people,” she said. “They could just get it all in one.”

Chambers said more places opening like hers, would only help Alberta Street.

“I feel like everyone should feel like there’s a place for them,” she said.

Alberta Main Street said its goal is to continue to collaborate with other places on the street. That includes building owners to try to get more of the minority-owned businesses opened.