THROUGH THE YEARS: King Street evolves, hopes to bring minority businesses back

Charleston County News

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – King Street in downtown Charleston has changed tremendously over the past 30 years.

Business is now booming as the city fills with new restaurants, retail stores, and even luxury hotels. But King Street did not always look that way.

Ruth Jordan with the City of Charleston’s Office of Women and Minority businesses tells News 2, as the city continues to grow, some longtime residents are against the change. But she change is not always a bad thing.

As the city grows, officials are working to make sure citizens, “can live, work, and play safely and enjoy the city of Charleston,” according to Jordan.

Year after year, the storefronts along King Street evolve with the times. Some businesses have been there for decades, while most have gone out of business — or found new homes.

One owner in particular, took his store down a different avenue.

Nearly 42 years ago, in May of 1979, Reverend Alfred Heyward and his brother, the late Reverend Dr. Isaac Heyward, founded ‘What-Cha Like Gospel.’

The record store gained national attention, even winning awards throughout the years. But, Rev. Heyward says ‘Gospel’ has always played a huge role in his life.

“There’s been ups and it’s been downs, but I always realized there were ups and downs in everything,” said Rev. Heyward.

However, as King Street transitioned, the cost of retail space and mortgage grew.

“My business wouldn’t have been saved if I had stayed down there with the changes they were making,” Rev. Heyward told News 2.

So, the Heyward brothers moved the store to Rivers Avenue in North Charleston. But, not every business survived the shift.

“Unfortunately, 30% of businesses are closing, and Charleston is not excluded,” according to Jordan. \

The city now plans to create new ones.

In fact, city officials are working to create a business incubator – geared towards start-up businesses of women and minority businesses. Officials say the plan is to also help established businesses.

The ultimate goal remains — to bring minority businesses back and expand diversity.

So, what does this mean for Rev. Heyward’s record store?

Heyward says, “if I’m alive and still in this business and everything, it will have to be God’s direction to direct me back to King Street.”

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