Sherman Phoenix marketplace celebrate 5 years of community impact

NOW: Sherman Phoenix marketplace celebrate 5 years of community impact

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) --- The Sherman Phoenix Marketplace is celebrating five years of success and impact in the community.

Driving near 36th and Fond du Lac, you can't miss it. The Sherman Phoenix serves as a central location in the heart of the Sherman Park community. Known for being a hub for many black-owned hometown businesses, the building has been a one-stop shop for the neighborhood. "It's a place where people can come do business, a place where people can gather, and a place of healing," said Dr. Stacia Thompson, Executive Director of Sherman Phoenix Foundation.

Thompson says just as a phoenix rises from the ashes; the central concept of Sherman Phoenix has always been healing for the community. That's how this space got its name. "In 2016, there was an unfortunate incident of a young man losing his life to being murdered by Milwaukee police and in turn led to some civil unrest in the Sherman Park community. There were buildings burned down, damaged, it made national news," said Thompson.

But something positive came out of all that chaos. On November 30, 2018, the Sherman Phoenix opened and became home to nearly 30 businesses. The majority of them were black-owned and operated. Thompson says there are many stories of growth within the building over the last five years.

"We've been brick and mortar to over 46 businesses. Of those 46 businesses, 89% of them are still in business, which surpasses national averages. Nationally, only 20% of Black businesses are still in business after 18 months," said Thompson.

She says the resources offered to their entrepreneurs here, coupled with the community support, is what's making the difference. "We have businesses that have grown out of their 500 square foot spaces into 3,000 square foot buildings that they've purchased," Thompson said.

Titus Dowl is a licensed massage therapist and owner of 9 Cloud Therapy located inside Sherman Phoenix on the lower level. "I feel like this is a place for people to come and still feel at home," he said. Dowl has been running his business here since the beginning, serving clients for the full five years the building has been open. He says being in the building has tremendously helped his business and so many other entrepreneurs. "All the business owners here...everybody is eating off of each other. Somebody that comes in for me may go patronize somebody else's restaurant or go right next door to get their nails done so yeah, we feed off each other," he said.

Another "day one" entrepreneur here says that what the Sherman Phoenix offers continues to fill voids in the community. "I think it's necessary, especially in this area," said Darrell Pate, barber and co-owner at 2 Kings Barber Shop. Pate has also been running his business in Sherman Phoenix for the last five years. "Small business is what runs America," he said.

This building also serves as a place for the community to gather and enjoy events and cultural opportunities. Youth Trap Therapy is held here each month to provide mental health support to families in the area. There are also many resources for entrepreneurs and other workshops and programs offered. The Sherman Phoenix Foundation, which started in 2020, helps support everything that goes on in the building. Thompson says Sherman Phoenix will continue feeding the fire for the community and she's excited to see what the impact is over the next five years.

A 5-year celebration is set for Nov. 28, which is Giving Tuesday. From 4pm to 8pm, community members are invited to enjoy free music, food, prizes and more.

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