Philly-area malls spotlight Black-owned businesses year-round

CHERRY HILL, N.J. (WPVI) -- Decades ago, when Dezeree Cheese-Moore would step into a shopping mall, she felt something was missing.

"We felt there was never a black business in a mall," she said. "You like to be represented, you want to go someplace and see yourself."

She made that dream a reality by opening a boutique named, "Stilettos Not Just Heels" in the Cherry Hill Mall. As the name implies, it offers a colorful selection of dresses, casual wear, and shoes designed to make women feel empowered.

"Young people coming up can see that and they can say, 'Oh, I can have a business in the mall, too," said Cheese-Moore.

PREIT, which owns the Cherry Hill Mall among others in the area, decided it would be important to bring the customers attention to businesses like hers. That's why they created the "Support Black-Owned Businesses and Brands 365" initiative.

"We want our shoppers to know that they are in our malls, we want to encourage them to patronize these businesses because we want to drive their success," said Lisa Wolstromer, Senior Marketing Director at the Cherry Hill Mall. "And we want to do it all year-round."

For each of the area PREIT malls, guests can find a link on their website that showcases a list of black-owned businesses and brands they can patronize next time they visit. Among them are the Cumberland Mall, Moorestown Mall, Plymouth Meeting Mall, Exton Square, Willow Grove Park and Springfield Mall.

Another business owner, Daezonae Jenkins of Hair and Accessories by Solemate, is thankful for the opportunities provided by the Cherry Hill Mall.

"Everyone said, 'Why would you start a business right now?'," said Jenkins in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, she created a resource for individuals suffering from hair loss to purchase beautiful wigs to rebuild their confidence.

"Cherry Hill Mall actually gave me a lot of tools to succeed and pushed me to expand," she added.

Only a year into her business, Jenkins is already expanding her miniature cart to an inline space within the mall.

To learn more about the various black-owned businesses and brands at the Cherry Hill Mall, visit their website.

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