Hakim Hopkins wants to be clear: His place will always be a bookstore.
Black and Nobel, Hopkins’ shop at Broad and Erie, is weathering industry shifts. Brick-and-mortar black bookstores have become rarities, hit hard by online shopping and e-books. The African American Literature Book Club maintains a directory of black-owned bookstores, by state. Out of the three establishments listed for Pennsylvania, only two remain open: Hakim’s Bookstore and Gift Shop in West Philly, the oldest African American bookstore in the country, and Black and Nobel.
Hakim’s (Hopkins was named after its founder) is open part-time, four days a week. Black and Nobel — the second part of the name, commonly pronounced “Noble,” is really meant to sound like the estimable prize — is open seven days a week. However, books aren’t the only thing sold there.
Inside the store, shoppers can pick up DVDs, wooden sculptures, flags from countries throughout the Black Diaspora, clothing, smoothies and shea butter. The latter two are huge sellers; Black and Nobel manufactures its own sea moss drinks and products with plants imported from Caribbean islands like St. Lucia and Belize.
“Health and wellness keeps us open,” said Hopkins, “but the books are a foundation — everybody knows us as ‘the bookstore.’”
This Business Supports “Minority Economic Development