There's no arguing 2020 hit small local businesses hard. At the start of COVID-19, many of you bought gift cards or merchandise at a retailer or restaurant showing your support. One year into the pandemic and many of those businesses would welcome continued help.
Mazie and Paul Wellington of Milwaukee found a way to keep that support going in the community. In February, the couple started a company called Bronze Box.
Customers can shop at bronzeboxgifts.com for a box filled with featured products from Black-owned businesses. The boxes are delivered to your front door.
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"Paul and I really instill in our daughter who is 3 1/2 the importance of shopping small businesses and especially Black-owned businesses," Mazie said.
At first, the items featured were all from Milwaukee or the Midwest (Emmanuel's Mix LLC, Lush popcorn, Blossom Candle Company).
Now, they're from all over the United States.
"A lot of places are just really happy to support us and in turn to support them," said Mazie.
New data from tax-prep service H & R Block shows out of 3,000 small businesses surveyed, 53% of Black business owners report their revenue dropped by half since the start of the pandemic, compared to 37% of white owners.
"We know right now that a lot of places are really struggling," Mazie said.
"That's what we're hoping through our business is to give those places visibility and help them and just build those relationships with people," she continued.
The price of the boxes starts at $25. When you buy one, some of your money is going to another good cause -- 20% of all the profits made go to the non-profit MKE Black. Paul Wellington started the organization which advocates for Black businesses in the Greater Milwaukee area.
"What comes from our heart is just like I said giving back to our community and this is a way everyone can give back," Mazie said.
For Women's History Month this March, Bronze Box is featuring a box called "Made by She." All of the products inside are from female Black business owners.