In the coming months, residents of Washington, D.C., will witness the presence of a distinctive green kiosk called The Bridge Spot as it traverses the city, carrying the essence of several small Anacostia businesses to other neighborhoods. The mission of The Bridge Spot, as stated on its website, is to “travel through all DC Wards to showcase Black small businesses partnered with the 11th Street Bridge Park.”
Scheduled to open its gates in 2026, the 11th Street Bridge Park is poised to become the city’s sole elevated public park. To tap into the anticipated one million visitors that the park will attract, The Bridge Spot will find a permanent spot within its premises, amplifying the visibility and patronage of these enterprises.
Scott Kratz, the vice president of Building Bridges Across the River, the nonprofit behind the creation of the kiosk, explained that the organization wanted to jumpstart its impact. “This is an opportunity for each of these businesses to step up to the next level,” he told WTOP News. “The goal is to build generational wealth for east of the river Black entrepreneurs.”
In addition to the enhanced visibility, the entrepreneurs featured in The Bridge Spot will receive pro-bono assistance from a renowned international business consulting firm. This support includes valuable marketing insights, communication assistance, and brand development, constituting a substantial investment in these businesses to ensure their continued success. Kratz emphasized that The Bridge Spot serves as a testament to the extraordinary talents and capabilities of these remarkable entrepreneurs from the eastern side of the river.
Each month, from June to December, the kiosk will highlight one of the eight selected businesses and relocate to a new destination, including prominent locations like Eastern Market, the D.C. Jazz Festival, and the National Capital BBQ Battle. Shawnette Monroe, owner of The Kitchen Physician, an herbal apothecary situated east of the Anacostia River, expressed her ambitions, telling WTOP News, “I want to be a household name in every state. This is just the start, and I’m so excited about it.”
Monroe is one of the eight Wards 7 and 8 entrepreneurs chosen to participate in this pilot program. Each retailer generates less than $200,000 in annual revenue, and the owners either reside or work in the Anacostia community. Monroe’s business gained traction at the onset of the pandemic when she began providing herbs to residents grappling with COVID-19 and other health concerns. She witnessed a surge in demand and is now the sole herbal pharmacy in the District, attracting clientele from as far as Boston.
“People would come by and say, thank you so much, you’re a blessing. I would like to make myself accessible to the entire DMV,” Monroe also said, reflecting on her journey from a door-to-door operation to opening a brick-and-mortar location just six months later.
The Bridge Spot symbolizes the potential for economic growth and community development and embodies the spirit of collaboration and inclusivity, showcasing the vibrant tapestry of businesses that thrive in the Anacostia neighborhood. As it traverses the city, this innovative initiative promises to forge a bridge between communities, amplifying the success stories of these talented entrepreneurs and cementing their rightful place in the fabric of D.C.’s business landscape.