BOSTON (CBS) – TJ Douglass, the owner of The Urban Grape on Columbus Ave in the South End, says it’s time for change.
He knows that his role as one of the few black-owned wine businesses is an important one. And the death of George Floyd one year ago, and peaceful protest and riots that followed impacted him in a major way.READ MORE: 'It Was Shocking': American Flag Torn Down, Stolen From Pulaski Park In Boston
“George Floyd changed my life, the life of my business, the life of my family,” he said.
His business was one of many that was broken into the night vandals wreaked havoc throughout the city.
“I was absolutely hurt,” said Douglass. “It put my staff at risk, but what really hurt is that I feel we do so much for our community.”
But to be clear, he firmly the believes the riots had nothing to do with the peaceful Black Lives Matter protests earlier that day.
“A window is not a life. Right? Insurance covers that. Mr. Floyd is not coming back. It put us in a position of being outspoken and some people stopped following us. Some people stopped buying from us,” he said.
Nowadays, his business is thriving.READ MORE: No Powerball Winner, Jackpot Climbs To $570 Million
“I have more brown and black people coming into my store post-June than I did for the 10 years that we’ve been a company.”
And his vision has never been clearer.
“Our vision is to create a world where all of us can feel safe,” he said.
On the anniversary of George Floyd’s death, Douglass says plans to announce a $200,0000 endowment gift, which will fund students to take part in the newly-formed Urban Grape Wine Studies Awards program, which includes a year of studies at Boston University, internships, and year-round mentoring.
Amanda Best is one of the first recipients of the award.
“It means so much to me, just being a woman of color,” said Best. “Through this internship, I’ve really been able to not only built confidence to be like, ‘Hey, I belong here too.'”
And Douglass is changing the narrative through the lens of a wine glass.MORE NEWS: Coronavirus In Massachusetts: Today's Developments
“I am using my platform of being in the wine industry of really leveling and creating some equity in leveling the playing field and changing the landscape of what it means to be black or brown in this industry.”