The latest census data shows as the population becomes more diverse, so has business ownership.
VNP Gallery's downtown location is on the corner of People & Mesquite street.
The Census estimates there are around 9500 black-owned retail businesses in the U.S., so a second location is no small accomplishment.
“Honestly, it still hasn’t hit me yet," said Co-Owner of VNP Gallery Jonathan Winfrey.
According to the Brookings Institute, in 2019, there were over 5.7 million businesses with employees, and of those, 2.3% were black-owned, even though black people make up 14.2% of the country’s population.
With their business thriving and with five employees, VNP owners said they have been looking at a new bigger location for about two years.
“Just because where we are at now, it's apparent we have outgrown it. You know, just the amount of people who have come and shopped with us on a weekly basis when we do our sales," said Jimmy Canela Co-Owner of VNP Gallery
Winfrey said they needed to upgrade from their first location off Water Street.
“This new one is like two stories, and like, give or take, it’s floating around 1200 square feet," said Winfrey.
Curtis Clark, the Vice President of the Corpus Christi Black Chamber of Commerce, told us there are around 25 black-owned businesses here in the Coastal Bend, a number he said has been on the rise in recent years.
Alyssa Mason, the Executive Director for Corpus Christi Downtown Management District, said although there are no specific incentives for black entrepreneurs, the incentives they do have, benefit everyone.
“We’re really excited for VNP, which really has this specialty kind of line where they’re curating vintage T-shirts and other things that are about the culture which we are trying to cultivate," said Mason.
A couple of reasons VNP owners said they wanted a presence downtown is to take part in events like First Friday's and the Art Walk. Plus, it’s a hot spot for tourists.
“When they go into another city, they just go downtown to see what the scene is like," said Winfrey.
“But we are really excited to bring something great to the downtown scene, really," said Emilio Trevino Co-Owner of VNP Gallery.
Almost 60 years ago, their dream of business ownership would have looked a lot different. When the civil rights act of 1964 outlawed segregation, it opened up opportunities for more Black-owned businesses.
“It’s just the love for it. You’re going to work every day, and you gotta love what you do," said Trevino.
“Along the lines of Black history month, in general, us just being all minorities, it’s definitely cool to see," said Canela.
“It is special because there is not too many of us, there’s not too many of us at all. The fact that I can do something that can enlighten Black History Month a little bit better is pretty awesome," said Winfrey.
VNP Gallery is looking to have a grand opening February 4 from 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.