New business aims to build up community
The new Dollar & Up store, located near the corner of 37th Street and Chicago Ave. in South Minneapolis, has a positive and inviting vibe. Fresh incense lingers throughout, accompanied by the smooth R&B ballads of Aaliyah, Lauryn Hill and Tank. The mellow melodies create an enjoyable shopping experience. Customers can also sip on complimentary coffee, freshly brewed with a hint of sweet cinnamon.
The unique Black-owned store was established through a partnership between DeParis Frazier, Harrison Hollivay and Nathaniel Haile. The grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony took place on Sept. 14. They say one of their goals is to ensure that everyone can afford basic necessities without compromising the quality.
There is a wide variety of products to choose from, all affordably priced at just $1 and up. The selections include birthday gifts, hip hop snacks, scented candles and hair products. The most popular items are “laundry detergent, household essentials and winter wear,” said Frazier.
A customer walked into the shop searching for warm winter accessories. After asking for input, he chose plush mittens and stylish gloves priced under $3. He departed with a smile and thanked the owners for their assistance.
It’s important to note that Sankara Frazier established “Circle of Discipline” (COD), a gym and youth center, in 1993 at the same location as Dollar & Up. His son, DeParis Frazier, said, “It has come full circle because we started here, and to turn around and have a shop in the same place we started is pretty dope.” The boxing ring used to be in the center of the shop. COD shirts are also available for sale.
The business partners value and promote good ethics. According to them, they are here to change the narrative by leading by example and focusing on “consumer centricity.”
“We want to emphasize good business,” explained DeParis Frazier. They also want to establish trust and positive rapport with customers. Hollivay said that he feels that as Black businessmen, they have to overcome mistrust. Hollivay said he hopes people “stop expecting the worst.”
The ambitious entrepreneurs invest their personal capital into the business. “We’re tapped into no funding—this is all us. We believed in it,” said DeParis Frazier.
Aside from operating the business, the owners have more than one source of income, which helps keep their new joint-enterprise afloat. “[It’s] not about lining our pockets. It is about giving back to the community,” said Hollivay.
The owners have years of business experience. DeParis Frazier is the owner of Sir’ Preme Executive Transportation. He also supports his family business, COD. Hollivay is the chief engineer of Vay’s Property Preservation, which services residential and commercial properties. Weatherization is a key service he offers as a part of the business. Haile volunteers locally as a coach and program staff for COD.
“The business serves as a community hub; we’ll allow young entrepreneurs to showcase their products,” said DeParis Frazier.
“When we get some funds coming, we’re gonna make the basement into a computer lab for the youth. We’re gonna use the gym and the store as a way to do job training and employee opportunities for circle kids,” promised Haile.
“[We] felt we could contribute to the movement, and we want to make a change. We wanted to give the community reduced prices and also give them a platform to push their items,” added Hollivay.
The young entrepreneurs have advice for young people who are interested in going into business: “Don’t operate in fear. There’s always work involved in anything worthwhile, but fear will keep you from trying. First step is always believing in yourself,” advised Haile.
“Come on through—see it for yourself,” said Hollivay.
Dollar & Up is located at 3653 Chicago Ave. S., Mpls. It’s open seven days a week from 9 am – 9 pm. For more info, visit Facebook/Dollar & Up and select the Minneapolis location.
Ashley Lauren is a contributing writer at the MN Spokesman-Recorder.