Black business owner breaks barriers

Black business owner in Concord breaks barriers

Aryanna White shows off Aquarian Era’s incense and ­candles.

CONCORD, CA (Feb. 16, 2023) — Black business is Black history, and Black Americans have been taking control of their lives through entrepreneurship since the 1800s.

There is no shortage of hubs and articles all over the Internet speaking to the importance of supporting Black businesses and listing businesses to patronize for Black History Month in February.

Black history is tied to Black business and wealth-building. Black people owning businesses gives their community a home base, from restaurants to beauty salons and barber shops. In Concord, the Aquarian Era New Age shop personifies the Black imperative to create something for the community and to support that community with what has been created.

At Aquarian Era, you can find items for “sound healing,” walls of incense and no shortage of healing crystals. Owner Melvin Thompson believes in offering his customers and friends the healing items that have helped him. But, he notes, in the Black community, it doesn’t do any good to preach. People can be skeptical, so he shares what he knows and lets them decide.

Overcoming obstacles

As a Black man trying to start a business, Thompson faced a variety of barriers. What makes Aquarian Era a piece of Concord’s Black history is that he didn’t care and he didn’t give up.

For him, Black history is a history of stigma. “(People) look at me like I should sell drugs or I’m supposed to sell CDs or something like that. So I always get that negative feedback from people.”

And trying to get a landlord to rent a location or a bank to offer a loan? It was a non-starter for years.

“Every time I tried to open a shop in my neighborhood or in my area where I was living (at the time) in Pittsburg, they would give me a hard time and give me the run around,” says Thompson, whose rags to riches story is about realizing a dream.

“I was selling shoes and purses out of the trunk of my car,” he recalls. “I said, ‘You know what, I’m tired of this. I want to do something. I want to spread love.’ ”

Thompson is a spiritual guy with faith in the universe and the world, so he knew he wanted to start a business that would provide healing to the community.

He realized he could do anything he wanted, so he did. He says his brand of spirituality can be baffling for Black people in his community, but he found a way to share it with the entire Concord community through Aquarian Era. Some of those skeptics in his circle have become converts.

After more than five years of working toward the shop, Thomson put it in the universe’s hands and let go of the frustration. He immediately got the call that the Concord location was his to rent. Black history is a history of spirituality and perseverance.

Inspiring others

Charhonda Bean, one of Thompson’s Black employees, reflects on what it means to be a part of living Black history through working for a Black-owned business.

“Having a Black boss in a Black-owned business has given me the opportunity to connect with the community in many walks of life,” Bean says.

Aquarian Era employee Charhonda Bean says the economy she wants to see is one where all humans work together.

She goes on to speak about Black wealth-building: “Black people should create and generate their own wealth. Most people may think of wealth in the form of money. I believe wealth is a mindset.”

Bean says that working for Thompson is a growth opportunity in a great work environment. “Whether this is your first job or you’re a seasoned worker, you get experience, exposure, resources and the opportunity to see what someone else has created for you to enjoy.”

What’s so powerful about Aquarian Era is that it acts as a beacon of hope for other aspiring Black business owners. Thompson is proud to tell us, “I have inspired many to start and open up similar businesses. I show people, especially people like myself, that owning and operating our own business is truly possible.”

He remembers each time his success story motivated another. “On three separate occasions, customers have come to Aquarian Era to thank me for inspiring them and tell me they opened up their own stores.”

Aquarian Era is at 2803 Main Ave., Suite A, Concord. For more information, visit

Vince Martellacci
Vince Martellacci

Vince Martellacci is a somewhat new resident of Clayton who loves to spend time in the town center and in Concord. He represents musicians across the Bay Area in the media when he’s not writing. Contact him at