Conceived primarily as an independent bookstore to honour and celebrate black writers, the sun-drenched, street-facing schomburg shop is set within the schomburg center for research in blackculture. a division of the new yorkpublic library founded in 1925, the center is named after the black historian and activist arturo alfonso schomburg. the original store opened more than 15 years ago, but a 2017 redesign gave rise to new flexible fixtures that lend themselves toliterary discovery: adaptable white shelves and neon beams that vertically divide the book sections.

Surrounding these are candles, jewellery and silk screens created by blackmakers. a feature wall at the entrancedisplays greeting cards etched with black figures and the recognisable quotes of black literary titans. we support small black businesses, explains rio cortez, buyer and creative coordinator. any support that comes to us sustains those relationships and the whole schomburg center. shop opening hours may currently be restricted to pick-up orders only, but all support continues to make a difference to the enterprise.

Cortez came to the schomburg shopafter a 10-year career in publishing, and wanted her experience to inform thestores approach. her depth of knowledge is visible in the expansive book collection: woke baby ($7.99), a lyrical instruction on toddler empowerment, sitsalongside (h)afrocentric: volumes 1-4($20), a comic-book series tackling gentrification, racism and police violence. the curated black liberation reading list includes well known works from james baldwin and the bestselling roxane gay.

If the books provide an education on blackness, then the gifts and homeware area celebration of black lives. t-shirts andtote bags ($25) made in collaboration with the artist derrick adams marked the schomburgs first literary festival last june. cosmogram coasters ($25) feature the centers art installation rivers, a site-specific work in honour of poet langston hughes by multidisciplinary artist houston conwill. the black power button set ($10) reminds the purchaser that black is beautiful and to say it loud, im black and im proud. an ossie davis mug ($12.95) features one of cortezs favourite quotes: ifind, in being black, a thing of beauty: a joy; a strength; asecret cup of gladness.

Cortezs selection of wares is deliberately curated to capture the sense ofjubilance of which davis speaks: there are so many black people from other countries who come in and are delighted tosee themselves reflected in our shop.

The store often provides a springboard for new brands. following a partnership with blk mkt vintage, this hub for historic black culture and style is now flourishing in brooklyn. a pop-up by artist harper iman (postponed for the time being) will display her coveted, bespoke handmade dolls ($98-$150) in their full 2ft-tall glory.

Book events are also frequent happenings, such as a signing for black lives matter co-founder patrisse khan-cullors memoir when they call youa terrorist.

A blueprint of support and promotion isat the heart of this enterprise. were an institution that focuses all the time on the preservation of black lives. cortez pauses and smiles. it feels good to be seen.

515 malcolm x boulevard, new york, ny 10037; ,