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A BOOST to Baltimore's Harborplace

Black-owned businesses get grants & opportunity
Posted at 4:39 PM, May 29, 2024

BALTIMORE — It’s a hidden treasure on the Howard Street corridor—-Cuples is billed as an urban tea experience.

“That is food, that’s culture, that’s music, that’s books,” said Co-Owner Eric Dodson, “It’s a vibe all surrounded and on the foundation of this amazing beverage called tea.”

And now, there’ll be tea for two—-two locations that is, as Cuples and six other Black-owned businesses will open stores where few remain at Baltimore’s Harborplace pavilions with the help of up to $25,000 grants.

“We both love Baltimore,” said Cuples Co-Owner Lynnette Dodson, “We both love the harbor. We both love the thing that we do most and that’s the teahouse.”

At a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday, the Downtown Partnership and MCB Real Estate officially welcomed members of what they’re calling the BOOST Boutique to Harborplace.

An incubator program, BOOST stands for ‘Black-Owned and Operated Storefront Tenancy.’

“Today, we’re here to honor, to recognize nine entrepreneurs, seven businesses who are not only opening their doors, but it’s their stuff,” said Downtown Partnership President Shelonda Stokes, “I’m going to say that because we’re recording. Their stuff, because its there shhhh… not their other stuff, but they own it.”

The BOOST businesses are operating under two-year licensing agreements with no guarantees once Harborplace is redeveloped.

“We understand that in two years, it’s going to go away,” said Lynnette Dodson, “but hopefully we’re at the table when the new development comes, whatever that looks like.”

And in the meantime, the future looks bright for the Dodsons and other owners at a time when many had written off business surrounding the Inner Harbor.

“People say the harbor’s dead. The harbor’s not dead. It’s alive and well, and you can see it every day with the amount of people that are walking through, jogging, just being a part of what’s going on downtown,” said Eric Dodson, “and for us to be here now at this time during Baltimore’s Renaissance is an amazing opportunity for us.”