For years, Black Soul Vintage has succeeded in Germantown through online and pop-up shops. But now owner Tomarra Sankara-Kilombo wants to open a storefront location that will also be a place to learn about Black culture and experiences.
Black Soul Vintage is a Black-centered second-hand marketplace that intends to uplift the history of African descendants through Black artifacts and inspire an afro-centric lifestyle. Sankara has funded the efforts of this business for the past few years through her savings. She focuses on books as an homage to Toni Morrison, who helped “radicalize” the owner’s thinking. But, there are many more items to choose from, like clothes, dolls, and home decor.
Right now, Sankara-Kilombo stores all of her merchandise in her two-bedroom home that she shares with her partner. A physical storefront will give her more space and opportunity to serve the community better.
“I literally have hundreds of records, books, ephemera, and art,” Sankara reveals. “A lot of people don’t know that I sell furniture, but I don’t like to offer it because I can’t ship it.”
Sankara disclosed that the location would be at 90 E. Church Lane, across the street from the old Hamill Mill apartments. The same building already houses VintaDelphia, a mid-century antique furniture shop. The owner is trying to raise $10,000, which should cover the commercial lease for an entire year, renovations for a floor, ceiling, bathroom restoration, and moving costs to transport the store’s inventory.
Sankara is hopeful that the new space and the creative control given by the building owner will allow Black Soul Vintage to collaborate with the community. While it will primarily be a retail space, she hopes it can be a place of learning and dialogue about Black issues. She says, “I want this to be a space where you can not only shop, but come and learn, have community events, book clubs, and all of those cultural things.” And while the space is Black-centered, she encourages neighbors of all backgrounds to come and learn about the culture in an appropriate setting.
The Black Soul Vintage owner ends with a message for all of Germantown’s neighbors and community affiliates. “By supporting [Black Soul Vintage], you’re supporting a Black woman. You are supporting someone who loves Philadelphia. Someone who loves Germantown. Someone who really loves Black folks.”
For further updates on Sankara’s efforts, including pop-up shops and online merchandising, follow the shop on Instagram at @blacksoulvintage.