Thursday, January 20, 2005

Retail business success: Karibu

Karibu means "welcome" in Swahili. Almost all of the books in the small chain of bookstores are by or about black people. Simba Sana and his partner Yao Ahoto started selling books from a street vending table in the District of Columbia in 1992. Sharing a passion for black literature and for black business ownership, they transformed Karibu from street vendor to mall pushcart to small store. Today, they have four stores in malls in Hyattsville, Bowie, Hillcrest Heights and Forestville (Prince George's County outside Washington DC). They also operate a kiosk in Pentagon City Mall in Arlington, Virginia, and a website. And here's another article about Karibu.

This niche market also reflects the "cause marketing" of the owners. Karibu is a retail marketing effort that is more than just a store. Karibu's mission, "to create a financially viable African owned and operated cultural institution," is posted in the backroom of each of the company's shops.


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