As the pandemic ravaged small businesses across America, some were surprised — and conflicted — about their success.
When Ms. Foss and her husband, Remo, opened their wine store in March 2019 on a lightly trafficked side street in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, hours would sometimes pass without a sale.
“We would stand on the street and beg people to come in and try our stuff,” she said.
The pandemic changed that. As the city locked down in the spring, customers streamed in for wine by the bottle and by the case. In April, sales doubled. Sales jumped again in the summer: As protests over police brutality and systemic racism rocked the city and nation, demand for products from Black-owned businesses — Happy Cork’s specialty — increased.
“I couldn’t keep Black Girl Magic on the shelves,” Ms. Foss said, referring to a California wine collection created by two sisters. “I’m so happy now that there’s huge customer demand, but it’s bittersweet that it took all of this to get attention on these brands.”