Tiny, traveling green kiosk to give Black-owned Anacostia businesses a boost

Business owners stand outside the green kiosk (from left to right): Oluwatoyin Omolaibake Payne (Ayoka Baby), Keisha Cofield (Blum Tea), Shawnette Monroe (The Kitchen Physician), Rhlinda Rhodes (Mane Rhodes Soap and Wellness), Katrina Norman (The Beautiful Brown Rainbow), Jacqueline Bush (JackiCan), Angela Chester-Johnson . (PLUM GOOD)
The Bridge Spot “travels through all DC Wards to showcase Black small businesses partnered with the 11th Street Bridge Park,” according to its website. (Courtesy 11th Street Bridge Park)

Over the next six months, many D.C. residents might spot a small, green kiosk called The Bridge Spot traveling around town, and its aim is to bring several small Anacostia businesses to other parts of the city.

The Bridge Spot “travels through all DC Wards to showcase Black small businesses partnered with the 11th Street Bridge Park,” according to its website.
The 11th Street Bridge Park project, set to open in 2026, will be the city’s only elevated public park. The kiosk will have a permanent spot in the park to soak up business from the one million visitors the park is expected to attract.

But, Building Bridges Across the River, the nonprofit group that created the kiosk, wanted to get a jump start on the kiosk, said Scott Kratz, the group’s vice president.

“This is an opportunity for each of these businesses to step up to the next level,” he said. “The goal is to build generational wealth for east of the river Black entrepreneurs.”

Along with the visibility the kiosk brings, the entrepreneurs will also receive pro-bono assistance from an international business consulting firm that includes marketing insights, communication support and brand development.

“It’s a much bigger investment in these businesses so they can continue to thrive,” Kratz said. “The Bridge Spot really shows the gifts, talents and abilities of these amazing entrepreneurs east of the river.”

Each month between June and December, the kiosk will feature one of the eight businesses and move to a new location, including Eastern Market, the D.C. Jazz Festival and the National Capital BBQ Battle.

“I want to be a household name in every state,” said Shawnette Monroe, owner of The Kitchen Physician, an herbal apothecary east of the Anacostia River. “This is just the start and I’m so excited about it.”

Monroe is one of eight small business owners in Wards 7 and 8 selected to participate in the pilot program. Each retailer makes less than $200,000 a year, and the owners either live or work in the Anacostia community.

Monroe started her business at the start of the pandemic when she began selling herbs to residents dealing with COVID-19 and other ailments.

Her business started booming, she said, and is currently the only herbal pharmacy in the District. She has clients who travel from as far away as Boston.

“My door was swarming down with people,” Monroe said. She opened a brick-and-mortar location six months later. “They would come by and say, thank you so much, you’re a blessing. I would like to make myself accessible to the entire DMV.”

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