It takes a community to sustain a black-owned business

Taking care of business

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Malcolm Crawford

It is always a pleasure when I can write about good things happening in and around the Austin community. It is always exciting when good black-owned businesses open. The business I'm writing about this time is Salutations Floral Shop, located at 5840 W. Chicago Ave.

Salutations is very much a family endeavor. The brain behind the outfit is Delilah Johnson. Ms. Johnson is a lifelong Austin resident. She attended Austin High School and currently lives in the Austin community with her family. Ms. Johnson told me she has always loved this community, and she has been doing floral arrangements for more than 20 years. She said she could think of no better place to establish a business than in the Austin community.

Now when I say that this is a family endeavor, I really mean it. I was introduced to the grandmother, a sister, the children and many friends and co-workers who came by, not just to give well-wishes, but who wanted to shop.

I also met the brawns of the outfit, Tommie Johnson. Tommie is also a lifelong Austin resident. He was proud of the fact that he attended Robert Emmet Elementary School and also Austin High School. Mr. Johnson, who works for the city's Department of Sanitation, began to speak about his work as if keeping the city clean were the most important thing in the world.

He told me I should want to see Austin look as good as any other community. "I live here," he said, "and I strive to take care of my people and give them the services they deserve as city of Chicago residents." Mr. Johnson also told me his family's safety is priority one for him (spoken like a true family man).

Now, I would be remiss if I did not mention their lovely daughters who seemed to be right at home meeting, greeting and serving the customers. I watched as the older daughter put together my bouquet of 24 long-stem roses for my very special someone: Ms. Crawford. Their daughter seemed to be too young to know so much about the floral business.

Well, I guess I should tell you about the flowers. Delilah said they can do all kinds of special arrangements for any occasion: weddings, funerals, birthday parties, you name it. I can say that my special someone loved her flowers, and I did not go broke.

As Chicago Avenue begins to change for the better, it is refreshing to see something open that is not a beauty shop, dollar store, church or mini-mart. It's good to see businesses that make a positive impact on our community. So to add to our black-owned dry cleaners (Double Door), our auto parts shop (Active Auto Parts) and yours truly (African Accents), please welcome Salutations by shopping early and often.

As the African proverb goes, "It takes a village to raise a child."

I have a new saying, "It takes a community to sustain a black business."

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