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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Hawk Spotlight on: Black Soul Vintage

Tomarra Sankara-Kilombo, owner of Black Soul Vintage, inside her shop. PHOTO: KELLY SHANNON ’24/THE HAWK

Address: 90 Church Lane, Philadelphia, PA 19144

Tomarra Sankara-Kilombo has always been a collector, and last June she opened a shop to sell an array of treasured pieces. 

Black Soul Vintage is a secondhand marketplace that intends to uplift and amplify African-descendent history. Formerly online-only, the shop opened a physical location in May 2022 and offers a wide variety of Black text, ephemera, art and furniture.

Items in the shop include letterman jackets from Black sports teams and music artists, African sculptures and figurines, VHS tapes of movies and TV shows that helped shape Black culture and significant Black literature. The walls and ceiling are decorated with vinyl covers and sparkling tapestry. Everything is eye-catching, so take the time to soak it all in.

Sankara-Kilombo became inspired to start her business by frequenting the shop Black Market Vintage in New York.

“I was always into vintage, but I never saw Black vendors ever,” Sankara-Kilombo said. “[Black Market Vintage] was my first time seeing Black people doing that. And then once I realized people had a real interest in my curation, I wanted to do something similar to that.”

The vintage store is open on Saturdays 12-4 p.m. or Sundays by appointment. The space is also available for rent. Sankara-Kilombo encourages art students to rent it out for film and photography. She also hosts a block party for Black-owned businesses and vendors on the last Saturday of every month through the spring and summer, beginning April 29. 

Sankara-Kilombo has acquired many cultural items of significance throughout her journey, mainly hunting for pieces herself, but she said she loves receiving donations from people who think the item should be in her hands.

“Non-Black folks will say, ‘I have something that I don’t feel comfortable keeping, but I don’t feel comfortable selling it.’ They want it to just be in a place where it would be appreciated,” Sankara-Kilombo said. She recounted a time where a white woman donated a caricature doll that she inherited but did not feel comfortable keeping.

Sankara-Kilombo welcomes anyone and everyone to check out her shop and learn something new.

“Black culture is really, really, really diverse. And it deserves to be preserved and shared by everyone. Black history is everybody’s history,” Sankara-Kilombo said. “All people come from Africa originally. We all have an investment in Black history and culture and preserving it and showing it in a positive light. And people really, really want that and people really, really need that.”

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