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Black Business News

Shopping Black During The Holidays

By Rosaland Tyler
Associate Editor
New Journal and Guide

“Be careful going in search of adventure – it‘s ridiculously easy to find,” travel writer William Least Heat-Moon once said.

Black-owned businesses, which rank No. 9 in Virginia, were not necessarily what Heat-Moon had in mind when he made the comment. Black-owned businesses, however, offer a sense of adventure because they are ridiculously and increasingly easy to find. Census records show this sector increased by 54 percent in 2007. Meanwhile, revenue increased 45 percent, to nearly $5.4 billion.

Here are a few examples of gifts you can find off of the beaten path. If you have more guests than spare bedrooms during the holiday season, take a quick exit off of the beaten track. Reserve a room at the Magnolia House B&B in Hampton, 232 Armistead Ave., Hampton.

“We have been serving the hospitality industry for 10 years and have a consistent 5-star rating on Trip Advisor,” said Lankford Blair, who has owned and has operated the bed and breakfast for 10 years with his wife, Joyce Hill Blair.

“Our guests tell us that their stay exceeded their expectations and they loved our customer service,” Blair said. “If you stay with us you can expect excellent customer service, hospitality and a great meal. Our guests leave full and happy.”

Here’s another adventurous gift idea. Give a custom-made quilt. JoAnne Cramatie has been making custom-made quilts for decades in Newport News. Her most popular quilts spread out to describe the Underground Railroad, Negro Spirituals, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Mahalia Jackson, and Muhammad Ali.

“Customers have told me that they love their quilt because I kept them abreast of the process every step of the way,” said Cramatie , president of the 5440 African-American Quilters Guild. “Everything that I put on it, I map out. Now I take pictures while I am making the quilt and show them.

This means they have a chronological history of the making of the quilt.”

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Each specialty quilt takes about three months to finish. Prices range from $1,000 for king-size quilts, to about $800 for a queen-size quilt. Prices for specialty wall hangings range from $500-$700.

“If you want to buy a specialty quilt to give as a gift or an heirloom, consider a commission quilt,” said Cramatie, who heads an organization that has about two dozen members and is always accepting new members. The organization will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2018 in Portsmouth.

“Making a quilt is an adventure,” Cramatie said. “Each time I sell a quilt I get better and it boosts my confidence. Quilting speaks to my spirit because I can create something, look at it and feel good about it. That is no better satisfaction.” To commission a specialty quilt, please phone 723-2236.


Another out-of-the ordinary gift is a CIAA season ticket. Tickets are now on sale for the 2017 Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournament that will be held in Charlotte at Bojangles Coliseum from Feb. 21-25. The championship finals will be held at Spectrum Center, formerly known as Time Warner Cable Arena, on Feb. 23 through 25

“We are excited about the opportunity to host our men’s and women’s basketball teams in these two great venues,” CIAA commissioner Jacqie McWilliams said in a recent statement. “This allows us to expand our footprint across the city to deepen our engagement within the community the CIAA calls home, and create experiences that everyone can be a part of.”

CIAA season tickets will give you access to 22 games, live performances by national recording artists, premium vendors, great food, shopping, contests, prizes and more. Tickets can be purchased at and

Black males who want to shift the conversation away from ho-hum stereotypes, and learn more about the sometimes complicated journey from childhood to manhood will probably enjoy reading a new book you can order on Dr. Theodore S. Ransaw said he wrote The Art of Being Cool: The Pursuit of Black Masculinity, to elevate the discussion.

“Black male students did not have a place to explore their identity in a ‘safe-place,” said Ransaw, a research specialist and faculty member in the African and African-American Studies at Michigan State University.

So he wrote his book to launch a conversation that does not follow the well-known path. Separating myth from reality, his book stresses the importance of developing an identity, and examining childhood’s overlooked impact on young adulthood. The Art of Being Cool: The Pursuit of Black Masculinity is available at and

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Or give tickets to performances at the Attucks Theatre. Harvey Mason will perform at the Attucks Theatre on Jan. 13 at 8 p.m. Carmen Bradford will perform Jan. 14 at 8 p.m. Bradford performed with the Count Basie Orchestra from 1982-1990.

Finally, stray away from the beaten path by giving someone a ticket to the African and African-American wine-tasting weekend that will begin Feb. 10 in Richmond at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

Tickets to the weekend-long event will include wine-tasting, competition, a brunch at Spoonbread Bistro, jazz, and multiple events at different locations including a mini conference for small business owners in the food, wine/beer/spirits, restaurant/food trucks and specialty gourmet food and beverage industries at the Behind the Business East Conference.

Featured wines and winemakers will include Shoe Crazy, Mouton Noir Wines, Flo Brands, Heritage Links Brands, Serendipity Wines, and Brown Estates.

For more information, to register and purchase as well as read the latest stories, visit

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