Coronavirus NYC Update: NYC woman convinces major retailers to dedicate 15% of storage space to black-owned businesses

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NEW YORK CITY (WABC) – A small business owner in Brooklyn has come up with a plan to help the disproportionate number of black-owned businesses fail during the pandemic – and this is spreading. Sephora is an international retail giant of cosmetics, the kind of business that can usually only change slowly, but they made a transformative change this week thanks to Aurora James.James has a retail store called Brother Vellies which sells shoes, bags and clothing from around the world.

Recently, she heard a startling statistic on the impact of coronavirus locking: 40% of black-owned businesses are expected to close during the pandemic.

All of this was revealed as people took to the streets to protest the murder of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis.

“I get all these emails saying that we are with you and that we support you, but I didn’t necessarily feel that support as a black person or a business owner,” said James.

James believed that if large retailers like Sephora and Target and Whole Foods committed to filling 15% of their store shelves with products from black-owned businesses, it would be a huge commitment.

“If they make the commitment, almost $ 15 billion will go to black-owned businesses and that is really the dream,” said James.

And Sephora did it. On Thursday, the company released a statement saying, “We were inspired to make the 15% commitment because we think it’s the right thing to do, for our customers, our industry and for our community … We can do better and this commitment builds on our ongoing work to use our resources to drive meaningful, long-term change for Sephora and our industry. ”

Another billion dollar company, Rent the Runway, has also made the commitment.

James now hopes Target and others see the wisdom of taking the pledge too.

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