The owners of MahoganyBooks in the Anacostia neighborhood of Southeast plan to open another store flourished with literature on the African diaspora in neighboring Prince George’s County, Md.
The latest endeavor of Derrick and Ramunda Young will open at National Harbor this coming Juneteenth, or June 19, which commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S.
“We have a healthy dose of nervousness, but we’re more excited. As entrepreneurs, we understand that there are risks in … all the moves that we make,” Ramunda Young said. “The pandemic won’t always be here. We wanted to make that decision now and be here for our customers seeking a space to feel like they’re part of the community. That’s important to us.”
The new bookstore’s interior design will echo the smaller, 500 square-foot D.C. location and will mirror the décor of National Harbor with mahogany-colored wood paneling earthy fragrances and soft, but upbeat background music to “make people feel warm and at home.”
“When you walk into a MahoganyBooks, we want you to have the feeling of love and appreciation for our culture and our heritage,” he said. “It will be ever present at any location.”
The bookstore, named after their daughter, is linked to an online bookshelf, www.mahoganybooks.com, featuring books signed by authors.
The website also promotes books for Black boys, including Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man,” Lamar Giles “Not So Pure and Simple” and Ibi Zoboi’s “Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America.”
One aspect of the site will be a podcast discussion planned for Thursday, Feb. 19 of W. Franklyn Richardson’s book, “Witness to Grace: A Testimony of Favor.” He is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Mount Vernon, N.Y. Linsey Davis, an anchor with ABC News Live Prime, is to join the conversation.
Once the pandemic eases, they said, they plan to offer in-person activities such as financial literacy workshops, summer reading programs and networking for entrepreneurs.
Both sites will present some differences.
The District location occupies 500 square feet inside the Anacostia Arts Center with books highlighting the history of the Nation’s Capital and include photos of famous Washingtonians like the late Mayor Marion Barry.
They said they haven’t set the size of the workforce for the 1,400-square-foot National Harbor storefront but Black-owned businesses are playing a key role in the new venture.
Define Design Group of Southeast continues to work on the scheme for National Harbor. And Jirani Coffeehouse of Manassas, Va., will sell desserts, snacks and, of course, coffee.
“Part of the impact for me is understanding how business can be an important instrument in improving our communities as Black folks,” Derrick Young said. “This is a part about creating economic power for ourselves in our communities. We need to support each other.”