Dallas-Fort Worth directory of black-owned businesses goes online
08:39 AM CST on Thursday, February 21, 2008
By ANGELA SHAH / The Dallas Morning News
Marketer Shane Hefner drives around black communities in North Texas and sees a disconnect.
"Blacks spend billions, but you couldn't tell that by riding through our neighborhoods," he said.
That's why he's created the Black Business Directory, a listing of about 1,000 predominantly black-owned businesses. The online version debuted Thursday, with a print edition to arrive in December.
Using the free, searchable online directory, consumers can locate merchants, get maps and directions, and read restaurant reviews and provide their own ratings.
Currently available directories of black-owned businesses aren't comprehensive enough, Mr. Hefner said. For example, a listing published by the Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce only markets its members. The Greater Dallas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce's directory also only features its members.
The Black Business Directory will feature not just those already well-connected in the business community, but mom-and-pop enterprises as well, Mr. Hefner said.
Its target is the more than 800,000 black consumers in North Texas.
"This is not just a place for advertising, but a place for being connected," he said.
Mr. Hefner, who spent about eight months researching the black directory, said he modeled it after one available for Asian-owned businesses here. That directory is also published by an individual businessperson, Mindy Chae.Blacks have not historically done business with firms owned by other blacks, Mr. Hefner said.
"And when we do, we expect lower cost or some kind of hookup," he said. "Or as soon as someone makes an error, the whole race is crucified."
But supporting their own businesses is just as important for black communities as Barack Obama winning the presidential election, he said.
Mr. Hefner, 37, said he's publishing a hard copy of the directory months after the online edition because there are still people who aren't active Web users.
"Some folks are just not going to go to the Web site ... older people who won't even fool with the Internet," Mr. Hefner said