This is part one of an ongoing series.
Rev. Roger Williams of First Baptist Church of Glen Cove came to the city in 1999, when he said there were few Black businesses. “That is still the situation,” he said. “The narrative that I have received over the years from people who grew up in Glen Cove is that there were more Black-owned businesses and the entrepreneurial spirit was common. The question of how that spirit diminished is met with a myriad of reasons.”
And now with millions of people that have taken to the streets to protest systematic racism and police brutality across the country the past few weeks, according to Marketplace.org, many have also been making posts on social media to support of black-owned businesses and restaurants. This support has also been seen in Glen Cove.
“My hope is that there can be an organized forum to discuss ways to approach a Black-owned business proposition,” Williams said. “I believe the city would benefit from it tremendously.”
Nicole Helmus, This Balance Life
“I offer meditation, yoga and coaching services,” said Nicole Helmus, who has been running This Balance Life out of Glen Cove for two years. “I bring a feeling of empowerment, a feeling of love and I help to give people a little bit of peace and calm, especially during the pandemic. Everyone is feeling a little anxious and some are feeling a little depressed.”
Helmus, a certified meditation and yoga instructor, said that she has been able to continue her work online since she often conducted business from senior facilities, companies and daycares. She has been offering free meditations and yoga classes online.
Asked why it is important to support local Black-owned businesses, Helmus said that “A lot of times, people do not know who we are. We have to go by word-of-mouth. It’s nice for people to support the black owned businesses and to see what they have to offer.”
Emanuel Johnson III, Gladiator Cleaning Services
“It was my father's business,” said Emanuel Johnson III, who was born and raised in Glen Cove and is the owner of Gladiator Cleaning Services. “It was established in 1974 out of Glen Cove, New York.”
Gladiator Cleaning Services, which is now located in Huntington Station, offers house cleaning, carpet cleaning, floor waxing, office cleaning and building maintenance. Johnson said that he prioritizes giving back to the communities his business serves, and that he especially wants to support and inspire the youth.
“When kids see a local Black-owned business, it gives them hope and it gives them ambition to say, ‘Wow, we can do this,’” Johnson said. “These are things that my company, my workers, the people I deal with, we are always in contact with what’s going on in the community.”
Johnson said that his father, Emanuel Johnson Jr. moved to Glen Cove from the south “with nothing besides the clothes on his back.”
“He was able to take care of me and my four brothers and sisters and there was a lot of hardship,” Johnson said. “We grew up in the projects in Glen Cove and we slowly went down to The Landing in a nice house and he taught us a lot of values about doing the right thing and doing hard honest work.”
Johnson said that when his father passed away 20 years ago, all of his clients came to the funeral. “It really opened my eyes to show what kind of man he was,” Johnson said. “So I’m just trying to follow in his footsteps.”
India and Kally Townsend, Kustom Kutz N Kurlz
Kally Townsend said that the pandemic was a challenge for her and her wife and co-owner of Kustom Kutz N Kurlz, India Townsend’s business.
But now that the shop has re-opened on June 16, the Townsends are happy to have the shop up and running again and they are currently prioritizing following all the state and local mandated protocols, such as requiring clients to wear a face mask and limiting the amount of people in the shop.
Kustom Kutz N Kurlz, which Kally Townsends describes as a family friendly hair salon, has been operating in Glen Cove for two years. “We’re the only shop in the residential area,” Kally Townsend said. “We’re in The Landing and we’re the only barber shop, hair salon that is Black-owned.”