‘It’s Becoming More Of A Black Mecca’ | Northlake Mall Embraces Charlotte Black-Owned Businesses

After struggling for years, Northlake Mall is looking to Black entrepreneurs to help turn things around.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Northlake Mall has been struggling for years thanks to financial problems and rising crime, but it’s now turning into a place for Charlotte-owned businesses to get a fresh start. 

The mall is embracing Black entrepreneurs to turn things around and those same business owners say it’s changing the mall for the better. 

“A lot of the negative that you have heard or known has been silenced,” Danyell Butler, co-owner of Modified Kicks, said.

Butler’s journey to owning a business has been difficult, but he now says he’s living his dream. 

“If we go back just a couple of years, I was homeless sleeping in a car,” Butler said.

With some paint and paintbrushes, Butler’s worked his into having his own store, Modified Kicks. From shoes to clothes, he gets to be creative while giving his customers a unique experience. 

“To reach the level we have now, it’s kind of unreal,” Butler said. “It is becoming more of a Black mecca. It’s becoming a smorgasbord of companies that have unique styles.

Nationwide, small businesses are being used to rekindle a love affair with shopping malls, especially after internet shopping and the pandemic accelerated the demise of brick-and-mortar stores.

According to mall officials, there are now 19 Black-owned businesses at Northlake Mall, which makes up 17% of all businesses there.

“As we build community in Northlake, I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that [with] the Black-owned businesses and locally owned businesses that you have in the retail space, the violence has gone down tremendously,” LaToya Evans, owner of Charlotte’s Nails, said. “Because part of that is, that’s your neighbor, your family, your brother, your cousin.”

Evans saw an opportunity at the mall. In November, she opened Charlotte’s Nails. She said by investing in Charlotte entrepreneurs, the culture is changing. She also said it’s providing people the opportunity to pursue their dreams and create generational wealth.

“Being able to have more Black-owned businesses isn’t just great for the economy, within the Black community, but it’s great for the local economy,” Evans said. “It’s great for our city to be able to say that anyone can come here, and anyone can thrive.”

Following some of the crimes that happened, the mall has increased security by adding gun sniffing dogs, more cameras, and a heavier police presence. 

Contact Lexi Wilson at lwilson@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookX and Instagram.

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