Two high school friends achieved their childhood dream this week when they opened the first Black-owned toy store in the South Bay Pavilion Mall in Carson, the same place they used to visit when they were kids.
Feon Cooper and Kareem Burton, the owners of Black Star Collectibles, say their friendship and now their business partnership is rooted in their long-time love for toys, comics and superheroes, even though as kids they couldn’t identify with any of the characters portrayed in the toys.
“We would go into different stores, and we wouldn’t really see any representation of us, so we wanted to bring a store that would represent us,” said Burton.
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“There are a lot of characters that represent us, but the information is not out...you would have to go on a scavenger hunt,” said Cooper.
That’s why despite the anxiety that comes when opening a new business, especially during the pandemic, Cooper and Burton say they are blessed. They finally achieved their childhood dream of opening a business that represents them.
“It’s been truly a blessing for us,” Burton said.
And their business has been well received by the community.
“I think it’s really inspiring, I think it’s something that people should go for more,” said Maria Hernandez, one of their customers.
The business partners say their shop offers a large variety of products with the Black community in mind, including “comic books, toys, and barbies.”
“[The shop] got all of my favorite things, comic books, basketball and collectibles, I honestly felt like I needed this place,” said Evan Johnson who visited the store attracted by its Black Panther theme.
With their business, Burton and Cooper hope to fulfill their customers' needs and most importantly, they say, prove that representation matters.
“We want to provide an experience, we want [customers] to come in here with butterflies and leave with a smile,” said Cooper.