West Philadelphia Bookstore Gets National Spotlight in NBA Finals

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) – As exciting as Tuesday’s NBA Finals game is, some people won’t be watching to see who wins.

They’ll be looking to see a great time for a neighborhood bookstore in West Philadelphia. It’s a moment Yvonne Blake’s father Dawud Hakim could never have imagined when he opened the Hakim Bookstore and Gift Shop on North 52nd Street in 1959.

“We are the first and oldest African-American bookstore in Philadelphia and the East Coast,” said Blake, adding that his father opened the business at a time when interest in African studies and subjects. Americans was not as high as it is. in 2021.

“He decided he wanted to sell books to educate everyone about our history,” Blake said.

Now the whole country will know the name: “Hakim’s Bookstore and Gift Shop”.

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The little shop is now in the foreground, as Hakim’s Bookstore and Gifts is featured in an advertisement during the NBA Finals with millions of people watching.

This is part of ESPN’s Champion Black Businesses initiative. The program highlights four small black-owned businesses across the country in commercials during the NBA Finals. Hakim’s Bookstore and Gift Shop is the only company selected in Philadelphia.

“I love that reading and volunteering brought me to a place that was a dream for me. On the NBA, part of the NBA Finals,” said Chris Arnold, engagement specialist community volunteer for the Hakim Bookstore and Gift Shop.

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He adds that neither he nor Blake know how the program found out about the bookstore.

Blake was surprised to receive a phone call and an email saying they were finalists for review and the eventual phone call that they had been selected for the program.

The selection also included an opportunity to meet Shark Tank star Daymond John virtually one-on-one. The mogul gave Blake and Arnold advice on how to continue growing their business.

“The easiest thing to sell in the world is the truth, and I think you have a genuine position,” John said, responding to a question from Blake.

Staying open for 62 years has sometimes been a struggle.
“There were days when we didn’t have customers,” Blake recalls.

But, as the pandemic closed the store doors, an unusual opportunity presented itself.

The nation was undergoing a racial awakening that prompted more people to search for books on the African American experience.

“It woke up a lot of people,” Blake said. “We suddenly started getting a lot of online orders. “

As Hakim Bookstore and Gift Shop move its slogan “Knowledge is Power” into the digital age, they are grateful for the opportunity to be seen on a national stage.

“In my wildest dreams, I never imagined we would be on national television, and it’s a great feeling,” said Blake.

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