Community helps save Black-owned Memphis donut business amid pandemic struggles

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The COVID-19 pandemic has seen thousands of businesses across the Mid-South shutter their doors amid economic turmoil.

Worried it was about to happen to them, the operators of a Memphis business took matters into their own hands and asked their community for help.

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At Blue’s City Donuts, distinction is the craft as each donut is made by hand.

With help from Isabella and Isaiah, 9-year-old twins, the business is run by Nicole Carter and Rueal Braden.

The pair considered every detail as they opened last January. It was unfortunate timing as it came just before the onset of the pandemic.

The business struggled for months. Some days in November, the business made less than $100, Carpenter said at the store Sunday morning during an interview.

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Businesses everywhere were folding, and Carpenter and Braden worried theirs would be next, a feeling described by Carpenter as “fear.”

Braden’s brother started a GoFundMe campaign for them last month, first with a goal of $2,500.

“I didn’t think anybody was really going to donate to it, because I’m like ‘everybody is dealing with things right now,’” Carpenter said.

But their goal was quickly surpassed, and money is still being raised, enabling the business to expand their hours to seven days while allowing room for what they hope to be an equipment upgrade.

Carpenter said the family was thankful for the help that’s come from the community around them, calling it “overwhelming.”

“I have so much gratitude,” she said. “I’m just so blessed that people have responded the way they did.”