Mobile green kiosk aims to empower black-owned DC businesses

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In the coming months, residents of Washington, DC will witness the presence of a prominent green kiosk called “The Bridge Spot” that criss-crosses the city, carrying the essence of several small Anacostia businesses to other neighborhoods. The Bridge Spot’s mission, as stated on the website, is to “travel across all DC counties to showcase black small businesses working with 11th Street Bridge Park.”

11th Street Bridge Park is slated to open in 2026 and will be the city’s only elevated public park. To tap into the anticipated one million visitors the park will attract, The Bridge Spot will have a permanent spot on its grounds, increasing the visibility and patronage of these businesses.

Scott Kratz, the vice president of Building Bridges Across the River, the nonprofit organization behind the kiosk’s creation, explained that the organization wanted to accelerate its impact. “This is an opportunity for each of these companies to take it to the next level,” he told WTOP News. “The goal is to build generational wealth for black entrepreneurs east of the river.”

In addition to increased visibility, entrepreneurs featured in The Bridge Spot will receive free support from a renowned international business consulting firm. This support includes valuable marketing insights, communications support and brand development and represents a significant investment in these companies to ensure their continued success. Kratz emphasized that The Bridge Spot is a testament to the exceptional talents and skills of these remarkable entrepreneurs from the east side of the river.

Each month, from June through December, the kiosk will highlight and relocate one of the eight selected businesses, including prominent locations such as the Eastern Market, the DC Jazz Festival and the National Capital BBQ Battle. Shawnette Monroe, owner of The Kitchen Physician, an herbal dispensary east of the Anacostia River, expressed her ambitions, telling WTOP News, “I want to be a household name in every state. This is just the beginning and I am so excited.”

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Monroe is one of eight entrepreneurs from Districts 7 and 8 selected to participate in this pilot program. Each retailer has less than $200,000 in annual sales and the owners live or work in the Anacostia community. Monroe’s business gained momentum early in the pandemic, when she began providing herbs to residents struggling with COVID-19 and other health issues. It saw a surge in demand and is now the only herbal dispensary in the borough to attract customers from Boston.

“People came by and said, ‘Thank you, you’re a blessing.’ I want to make myself available to the entire DMV,” Monroe also said, looking at her journey from door-to-door operation to opening a brick-and-mortar location back just six months later.

Symbolizing the potential for economic growth and community development, the Bridge Spot embodies the spirit of collaboration and inclusivity by showcasing the vibrant spectrum of businesses thriving in the Anacostia neighborhood. As it makes its way across the city, this innovative initiative promises to bridge communities, amplify the success stories of these talented entrepreneurs, and solidify their rightful place in the fabric of DC’s corporate landscape.