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North Hills Monthly

Apps Help Users Choose Black-Owned Businesses

Jun 29, 2020 11:57AM ● By Jennifer Monahan

Amid protests, marches and increased focus on the need for racial justice, many Americans are wondering how to support the black community. One concrete step is to support local, black-owned businesses, and a host of apps can help consumers identify black-owned enterprises when looking to shop, spend or dine out.

The Black Wallet is an effective resource for finding event planners, photographers, hair salons, restaurants and much more. The app helpfully shows the distance from the consumer’s location to each business; it includes online businesses as well as brick-and-mortar establishments. TBW’s best features are its ease of navigation, engaging graphics and overall visual presentation. Business listings in the North Hills region are relatively limited at present; however, as more business owners in the Pittsburgh area list their products and services, the selection of nearby offerings promises to improve. (Free; available for iOS and Android)

Hungry? The EatOkra app is a directory of black-owned restaurants. With ample restaurant listings in Pittsburgh and surrounding areas, the app is a great tool to find delicious food while also intentionally supporting black-owned eateries. Current restaurant options in Pittsburgh include cafés, BBQ joints, coffee shops, Caribbean fare, soul food, sandwiches and upscale dining. As with most restaurants, many of these establishments have adjusted to offer take-out or drive-up options during the pandemic, even as they begin to welcome customers to dine in. (Free; available for iOS and Android)

I Am Black Business is both an app and a website that allows consumers to sort through service providers and stores. Listings in the Pittsburgh area include attorneys, consultants, plumbers, beauty supplies, health and wellness services, therapists, moving companies and more. The app is easy to navigate and scores high among users both for its lack of advertising pop-ups and its rapidly growing business directory. (Free; available for iOS and Android)

Two different apps, Official Black Wall Street and Black Nation, are poised to become excellent resources, but are not currently helpful for the Pittsburgh area. Both apps provide a clearinghouse for services and products like apparel, attorneys, beauty, catering, fitness, realtors and more. At present, neither app has listings for Pittsburgh or the North Hills. As the apps grow in popularity and as businesses in western Pennsylvania submit information, both have the potential to be valuable local resources. For anyone traveling, however, it can be a great tool now—listings in cities such as Atlanta and Los Angeles are more robust. (Both are free and available for iOS and Android.)

Yelp—already one of the most popular apps around—allows users to search for businesses or restaurants that are black-owned. Unlike some of the cool but lesser-known apps which are still growing their databases, Yelp already has a plethora of retail and restaurant listings for individuals seeking to find black-owned businesses. Excellent choices abound in the North Hills area as well as in downtown Pittsburgh. (Free; available for iOS and Android)

Similarly, in early June, the ubiquitous Uber Eats launched an in-app feature offering its users the option to search for black-owned restaurants. Though still expanding its listings in the local area, the app promises to be an excellent resource for people who want to support black restauranteurs while also getting to-your-door delivery.

Consumers often make purchasing decisions based on sustainability, shopping local, supporting woman-owned business and similar considerations. For the many individuals looking to show support, spending money in black-owned businesses is one way to invest in the economic livelihood of these communities.