By John Gallagher Detroit Free Press
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) The bookstore owned by 81 year old Janet Jones is one of 26 existing small businesses in Detroit that will each get $10,000 to carry out improvements or expansions.
Detroit Free Press
For the past 30 years, Janet Jones has beaten the odds facing entrepreneurs in Detroit.
First, she has run a brick-and-mortar bookstore in an age of online bookselling. Next, she did it in Detroit during the worst part of the city's economic crisis. And third, she did it as a woman of color, perhaps the group of entrepreneurs facing the most obstacles.
Jones' bookstore, The Source, located on Cass in Midtown, is one of the winners in the latest round of the NEIdeas small-business competition sponsored by the New Economic Initiative.
The bookstore is one of 26 existing small businesses in Detroit that will each get $10,000 to carry out improvements or expansions.
Now in its fifth year, the NEIdeas Small Business Challenge aims to help existing "been-up" (as opposed to "startup") businesses in southeast Michigan. So far, NEIdeas has awarded a total of $2.16 million to 144 businesses in Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park.
Jones and other winners will be recognized Thursday evening in a ceremony at the Fisher Building in Detroit's New Center district.
Jones, 81, spent 40 years as an educator in Detroit Public Schools and began selling books across the table at fairs and events, the equivalent of today's "pop-up" retail. She has run a brick-and-mortar store since 2002.
She credits "first opportunity, then courage" for making a go of her store over the years. And it helps that her bookstore tries hard to serve her local community, offering books on history and culture, health and well-being, metaphysics and spirituality, and books by and about women. She also convenes author appearances and other special events.
Pam Lewis, NEI's director, said the NEIdeas awards are a tribute to entrepreneurs like Jones. "Though they might lack capital and connections to resources, neighborhood small businesses have no shortage of great ideas for growth," Lewis said. "The NEIdeas challenge accomplished what we set out to do -- connecting been-up businesses to a network of support that can help them realize their ambitions and thrive. We're thrilled to honor another group of neighborhood entrepreneurs and businesses who mean so much to their communities."
This year, 77 percent of NEIdeas winners are minority-owned businesses, and 65 percent are female-owned businesses.
They represent a variety of sectors, including service, retail, manufacturing, entertainment, food, creative, medical and more.
2018 NEIdeas winners
6301 Michigan Ave. LLC (Detroit, Southwest) Idea: Create a co-working space in southwest Detroit
Accent Upholstery (Detroit, east side) Idea: Renovate interior of upholstery business showroom
Baskin Tax Service & Insurance Group (Detroit, Southwest) Idea: Execute marketing campaign and purchase office equipment for better service to bilingual clientele
Coriander LLC (Detroit, Jefferson Chalmers) Idea: Expand catering business to sit-down farm-to-table restaurant
Denson Construction Services LLC (Detroit, Islandview) Idea: Purchase a pickup truck for faster delivery of construction materials to customers
Detroit Grease (Detroit, NW Goldberg) Idea: Expand cooking oil recycling business with purchase of 60 new waste collection containers
Detroit Martial Arts Institute (Detroit) Idea: Purchase a van, STEM programming, and other instructional materials to offer comprehensive programming for students
EnACT Your Future (Detroit, New Center) Idea: Create a video marketing campaign to raise awareness of ACT test prep courses
Flo Boutique (Detroit, Midtown) Idea: Redesign interior retail space to increase capacity for inventory and grow sales
Fred & Son Recycle (Highland Park) Idea: Purchase a used covered van to increase delivery capacity in inclement weather
Gaddis Gaming (Detroit, Bagley) Idea: Expand line of historical board game figurines to meet growing demand
Hall of Fame Driving School (Detroit, Krainz Woods) Idea: Purchase a second vehicle to pick up students without reliable transportation
Hollingsworth Facility Maintenance LLC (Detroit, Northwest) Idea: Purchase used truck and new commercial cleaning equipment to increase capacity and service more customers
Home Sweet Home Specialty Baked Goods (Detroit, Morningside) Idea: Purchase cooking equipment to meet demand for baked goods and scale business
La Cuscatleca Inc. (Detroit, southwest) Idea: Revamp interior and expand current offerings to turn Latin-American grocery store into a community hub
Mutual Adoration (Detroit, east wide) Idea: Build out camper into a mobile shop
The Mushroom Factory (Detroit, Campau/Banglatown) Idea: Purchase humidification and fruiting chamber to increase production capacity
Nail-Rite Construction Company Inc. (Detroit, Osborn) Idea: Bring on and train an estimator to utilize new bidding software and purchase a used vehicle for mobile trade school
Natural Red (Detroit, Downtown) Idea: Purchase commercial filling and labeling machines to increase productivity
Riverfront Building Supply and Hardware LLC (Detroit, Jefferson Chalmers) Idea: Invest in showroom renovation and office space build-out
Soapstone Soaps LLC (Detroit, Brightmoor) Idea: Purchase ingredients and equipment to increase production and scale up to wholesale customers
Source Booksellers (Detroit, Midtown) Idea: Revamp interior and launch marketing campaign to reinvigorate store for 30th anniversary
Swint Logistics Group, Inc. (Detroit, Downtown) Idea: Development of dump truck operation training program
Town Center Coin Laundry (Hamtramck) Idea: Purchase additional washing machines to serve more customers
Umi's Comfort (Detroit, Russell Woods) Idea: Purchase design software and heavy-duty sewing equipment for growth of quilt sales
William & Bonnie (Detroit, New Center) Idea: Investment in industrial sewing machines and apprenticeship training