Meet Henry Schipes, the owner of Mr. Discount Plus Store, a Black-owned convenience store in Bakersfield, California that has continued to operate for 70 years and still remains strong until today. The family-run business is proud to celebrate, not just their successful years in the business, but also their long-term service to the community!
“I grew up in this neighborhood,” Schipes told local ABC News. “When it was all Black-owned businesses that’s one of the things that keeps me inspired and wanting me to continue to operate and have a store. I am the last of the [original] stores in this neighborhood.”
Even before the Civil Rights movement that opened the doors for more Black-owned businesses, Mr. Discount Plus Store has already been opened. It was one of the first mom-and-pop shops in the area where the majority of the businesses were once Black-owned. The store was always filled with grocery items, hair care products, and other household items.
More than just a business, Schipes said that the store has always been a community space to help those in need in the neighborhood. And he plans to continue doing it as long as he can.
“I try to keep my property and store open and available to organizations that come to me about doing events,” said Schipes. “[We do] drives like clothes giveaway, we just had an MLK free dinner and during Thanksgiving, we feed the community [here].”
Schipes, however, admitted that it is not easy to keep the store open as only a few people came to shop at small businesses these days. But even though most of his neighboring shops already closed, he is confident that more people would still support Mr. Discount Plus Store. That way, he could be able to achieve his goal to expand his shop and create more jobs in the community while keeping his legacy alive.
“I enjoy doing this and a lot of times I was saying that I was going to give up,” Schipes said. “Then they [the community] keeps saying they need me and that you are the only store we have left, and that means a lot. Also, this inspires others so they can operate something similar.”