ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — There is a lot to dazzle visitors at the new St. Pete Pier.
One of the most impressive sights is found right when you stroll in: the 1Pier by One Community kiosk in the Marketplace.
A powerful collective of nine Black businesswomen are joining forces and making history to show off their luxury wares in the shop.
It is part of a historic citywide equity initiative, the One Community Plan, meant to boost the economic standing of Black people in St. Petersburg.
"Unfortunately, for black women, it's harder for us to get into an industry," says Tanisha Scantling-Williams, owner of Agape St. Pete, the Art of Sole, which sells flip-flops and accessories there.
"This gives us the opportunity as women to break the walls of time," says Toni Gallardo, owner of Lounge Apparel, which sells kimonos at 1Pier.
The program gets support and incentives from the city, and the women team up to staff and maintain the store. Many of the business owners have online sales and brick-and-mortar stores elsewhere.
This is a chance to show off a samplings of their wares, their talents and their strengths.
"I see this not only as a storefront, but I see it as an opportunity to look forward," says Gallardo.
Nikki Gaskin-Capehart, the city's director of urban affairs, says the kiosk is a game-changer, not to mention a long time coming.
"It's so important that people understand that this is a mind-set shift," says Gaskin-Capehart. "It's an effort to make sure that downtown is diverse and welcoming for everyone."