DELMAR LOOP EAST — If supporting black-owned businesses is a thing for you, then simply take a shopping or trolley trip down the Delmar Loop East.
While black-owned businesses in St. Louis have some way to go to close the entrepreneurial gap, Black women rock more than 25 businesses on the popular strip’s east wing. The Delmar Loop East spans Limit Avenue, about two blocks west of Skinker Boulevard to just east of Hamilton Avenue.
The businesses range from eateries, salon spas, shoe and apparel boutiques to child and clinic care, lounges and cultural jewelry. Some offer more than one product or service.
Cocktailz: A Beauty Bar is one such business. A full-service salon that includes waxing, it also offers a trendy selection of women’s apparel and, of course, cocktails.
For the owner, Ley Woods, setting up shop in The Loop has been, well, beautiful.
“I’ve been there six years and I’m still going,” said Woods, who returned to St. Louis after living in California.
“I came home a couple of times, and I had been in The Loop and saw how it was developing and said, if I want to open a business, The Loop is where it should be,” she said of her beauty bar, at 6150 Delmar Boulevard.
As with most businesses, the success doesn’t always come without some struggle and marketing savvy.
“I think being a business owner is a challenge in itself, but challenges are something that you have to work through,” Woods said, adding, “No matter where you are, you have to figure out how to get your customers to come see you, and how to create the best experience for customers as possible.”
The customers who Woods gets through foot traffic come from many walks of life, something she relishes.
“It’s such a melting pot of people,” she said. “You have the rich, the poor, the middle class, black, white, artists, all different types of personalities, age, sex and denomination.”
Across the street and a few steps west is Posh Shoe Bar at 6193 Delmar, a few yards from where the East Loop begins. There’s plenty of fancy footwork to choose from. And plenty of accessories to boot and to match.
The owners are sisters D’Ann and Jacq McIntyre. They too appreciate the location.
“The only challenge is the typical weather change; it gets a little slow, but that’s when you pick up the pace with your online presence,” said Jacq, who is head merchandiser and marketer. She said choosing shoes to sell was almost a talent, fueled by passion.
“You have to know what other people may like and blend it with what you like,” she said.
Still a couple of blocks eastward, African-American businesswomen hold more East Loop businesses in four neighborhoods: Parkview, Parkview Gardens, Skinker/DeBaliviere and West End.
“I like that – I’m able to get all of those neighborhoods involved as we did with our recent Juneteenth celebration,” said Rachelle L’Ecuyer, executive director of the Delmar Loop.
Kym “Kemet” Moore said she certainly benefited from surrounding neighborhoods as people walk to a nearby MetroLink station and westward toward the main Delmar Loop stretch.
Moore’s shared space, Atlantis, at 5984 Delmar, has offerings for the mind, body and soul. She offers art, candles, jewelry and books. And there’s more: yoga, therapeutic massage, spiritual healing, nutrition and meditation.
If that wasn’t enough to keep her busy, it’s also a full-service salon. Along with hair styling, she offers facials and waxing.
For about 20 years, Moore operated her business in the main, more popular area of The Loop, where there was more foot traffic. However, Moore said, parking was an issue. And because of that, she prefers her new East Loop location.
“I like it better than when we were in the midst of everything: People couldn’t find a place to park, and a lot of people would walk by but they wouldn’t come in,” Moore said.
Now Moore has her own parking lot and more bang space for her buck. She also has enough space to take her items outdoors for a marketplace, which she does every other Saturday from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.
“It’s been pretty good,” Moore said.
Though many of the businesses do their own marketing, the Delmar Loop pitches in as well.
“Our goal is to have a continuous business district from the 5800 to the 6600 block,” L’Ecuyer said.
L’Ecuyer said the trolley also helped the businesses.
“The trolley provides a full tour of The Loop from a unique perspective; I think it really helps people see what is in the Loop.”
26th Ward Alderman Shameem Clark Hubbard, who used to own a hair salon in the Delmar Loop East, said she wanted the businesses there to know she was there for them as well.
“I know the fight, so I want to be a support and a resource however I can,” Hubbard said. She said she regretted having closed her salon.
“Through my experience, I know what it feel like to lose and win, and I want to do what I can do to make sure they win,” she said.
St. Louis ranks No. 1 in the nation for female startups, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau of the American Survey of Entrepreneurs.