By Timothy G. Beeman II
If you have spent any amount of time in the Arts District of Downtown Winston-Salem, North Carolina, then you have undoubtedly perused by Body and Soul. Afro-centric jewelry, sculptures, scarves, Barack Obama coin bank. Yes, you have seen it. A unique store to say the least. But, what do you know about Body and Soul? Unless you are a regular, then we will venture to say you do not know enough about it.
Did you know that the store just celebrated their 14th anniversary? Yes, the store has been around since 2003. Did you know that it is four stores in one? Four different concepts contained within one large store’s walls. Owner Dana Suggs gave a tour and explained all of the concepts.
First, there is the boutique area. In this area, you will find jewelry, accessories and other items from all over the world. Dana encourages her patrons to pick up the items, feel them, be in touch with them. She explained that she wanted her customers to feel at home and free to explore. There is a collection of scarves from various countries, made of various materials, which would make the perfect accompaniment to you or someone you love’s ensemble.
The next section of the store is the “Book Room.” This room is full of books that were written by African American authors for everyone’s enjoyment; not just African
American readers. However, as Dana explained, “when I was a kid it was hard to
find books that people of my complexion
could identify with.” There are children’s books, adult biographies and autobiographies, fiction and non-fiction, as well as poetry – especially the works of famous Winston-Salemite, Maya Angelou. You would be hard pressed to find a similar bookstore in the area.
Dana then showed off the Skincare and Aromatherapy Area. Here you will find the largest selection, 14 different scents, of Shea Butter products, in bar soap form as well as in skin creams and lotions. When you walk into Body and Soul, you immediately smell sandalwood incense, which you can purchase along with various other scents and aromas.
The final “store” is the African-inspired Art Gallery. There are sculptures, paintings, masks, stools, tapestries, and other home furnishings in the gallery that would be a great addition to many rooms in your house or in your office. The pieces are definitely impressive and you can actually feel the creativity that fills the room. Most of the items are from Africa, but some of the wares are inspired pieces made elsewhere, including here. Body and Soul has gift certificates for you to give your friends or family that may be hard to buy for. Let them pick out their own “inspiration.”
Dana has done a fantastic job in creating a comfortable atmosphere for patrons of all races to come, buy quality products and enjoy cultural riches that inspire not only happiness but creativity and imagination. From the wares to the ambiance to the World Music playing throughout the store, you will have an enjoyable experience.
Dana, a Queens, New York Native moved here over 20 years ago with an advertising background. She was noticing a void where African American heritage could be celebrated by all. She says if you were to visit her house, it would be very much like her store and she wanted to bring that to Winston-Salem. She picked the Arts District to be the place for her vision to become a reality.The community has been very supportive and she considers the store to be a success. While researching to write this article, I can assure you, she is open, welcoming and accommodating. I would call that successful.
Body and Soul is located at 545 N. Trade Street. They are open Monday noon to 5 pm and Tuesday through Saturday 11 am to 6 pm.