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Volunteer initiative rapidly grows to support 1,600 CT Black-owned businesses, launches first-ever “Best of ShopBlackCT” Awards

Hartford, Conn. – In just one year,, a volunteer initiative and free not-for-profit website, has grown eightfold, now listing 1,600 CT Black-owned businesses in 99 towns across all of Connecticut. To celebrate its one-year anniversary since launch on July 1, 2020, ShopBlackCT has teamed up with Planet Fitness/ECP-PF Holding Group to host a virtual Best of ShopBlackCT Awards, which will encourage Connecticut residents to “shop Black” this summer.

“We’re excited to partner with Planet Fitness—of which 30 locations in CT are Black-owned—to bring a fun and interactive way for people to visit and support Black-owned businesses across Connecticut,” said Sarah Thompson, founder of ShopBlackCT. “The businesses with the most votes will receive special recognition and prizes. We hope this encourages people to try something new, be intentional about where they’re spending their dollars, and truly see what these incredible businesses have to offer.”

Voting will take place from July 15 through August 30, and participants will be able to vote up to once per day for their favorite businesses across a number of categories, including beauty and cosmetics, restaurants, photographers, barbershops and everything in between.

“We’re also asking voters to use #BestofSBCT to supercharge their votes,” explained Thompson. “If you visit a CT Black-owned business or purchase a product and post a photo using this hashtag on social media, that business will receive bonus votes.”

Full details and entry forms can be found on starting on July 5.





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 About is a volunteer initiative and not-for-profit site featuring 1,600 Black-owned businesses in Connecticut. The mission of ShopBlackCT is to challenge structural racism and transform the legacy of economic and social inequity in the U.S. by providing a platform to drive business to and awareness of local Black-owned businesses.

In a recent survey, 95% of businesses owners surveyed said ShopBlackCT is helpful for CT Black-owned businesses. 83% reported more exposure, increase in sales or new connections to other business owners thanks to ShopBlackCT.

“They have dedicated their time and their resources to create a platform that has been very instrumental in the growth of my business and the growth of many other Black-owned businesses in Connecticut. A lot of times us small business owners don’t have the means to get our names out there, but this platform was created to do that. It was so needed,” shared Shawnee Rochester, owner of Escape Massage & Esthetics Studio.

Click here to access FAQClick here to see recent news coverage about

Visit or or to learn more, browse, submit a business or contact a team member.

Click here to access the ShopBlackCT blog, with photos and features of CT Black-owned businesses by ShopBlackCT volunteers.