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Amid the wave of Black Lives Matter protests, there have been growing calls to support Black-owned businesses. This momentum came in the nick of time for a Washington, D.C. ice cream shop.
Many businesses were hit hard by the pandemic, including Southwest Soda Pop Shop, which was forced to temporarily close its location in D.C.’s popular seafood destination, The Wharf. Opened in 2018, the ice cream shop is family-owned and operated by sisters Brittany, Andrea, Brianna and Lena Jones and their father, Darryl.
The closure caused “great financial devastation,” Andrea Jones posted in a tweet on June 5, days after Southwest finally reopened on May 29. With the shop finally back in business but struggling to offset the hit from its months-long hiatus, Jones turned to Twitter for support, highlighting the importance of supporting a black-owned business.
Jones’s tweet went viral, drumming up new interest in the ice cream shop.
“Am I about to drive across the entire United States just to get ice cream from this place in particular? Probably,” one user commented.
“I just wanna say your stuff looks incredible, if i’m ever in the area count me the heck in!! For now have a boost!” another person wrote.
The Jones family were also able to raise over $25,000 on GoFundMe, a sum more than $10,000 higher from their initial goal. As of last week, Southwest Soda Pop Shop also had lines wrapped around the block.
Brittany Jones tells Yahoo Life that she has been “overwhelmed by joy” by the community’s response, adding that the family has served 100-plus customers over the course of a week as a result.
“We were at our wit’s end,” she admits. “We were at the point when it was like, we have to do something.”
The Southwest Soda Pop Shop was founded by her father, Darryl, who initially came into owning the property after the death of a friend, who left it to him in his will. The venture went from just selling soda to also selling specialty ice cream treats. Brittany, who is a native of Prince Georges County, Md., explains that her father was the sole provider in their household and his entrepreneurial spirit inspired her and her siblings to follow in his footsteps.
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“He kind of like just paved the way for us,” she says. “We just always knew we would be into the business in some kind of way, but to have our own and operating our own has been a very humbling experience for us.”
Thanks to the outpouring of support from the local community, Southwest Soda Pop Shop is finally living the dream. Brittany Jones says that the family definitely intends on paying it forward.
“I am a school teacher and one of my main things was to give back to the kids, because a lot of kids throughout this quarantine have not been able to eat the way they eat at school, so once our bills are taken care of, the next thing is to feed the community,” she says. “You can’t do anything if you don’t eat.”
She adds that they also plan on opening up another location and maybe even getting an ice cream truck.
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