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Last November, Brian Roberts quietly launched a pop-up retail business called Black Pantry, where he sold sundry home goods and foodstuffs—everything from soaps and candles to artisan hot sauce and jam—out of a small trailer at locations around Kansas City. His core mission: Give Black brands a spotlight.

Roberts returned to his native Kansas City in 2019 after a decade away. He was struck by the enormous business and development growth he found in the area—and disheartened, too.

“When I came back, I saw all these different areas with a lot of life and rejuvenation, but nothing that really embodied any growth from the Black community,” he says. Every product Roberts stocks at Black Pantry comes from a Black-owned business. That’s the primary qualifier. From there, Roberts selects merchandise that’s of high quality and craftsmanship.

In April, Roberts partnered with Made in KC to split the retail space at the brand’s new shop in Martini Corner (half the square footage is stocked with Made in KC products; the other half is Black Pantry). It’s the next step in what he hopes will be a long life for Black Pantry.

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