“I’ve grown up in southern Dallas County my whole life,” Anderson says. “I made a decision many years ago to specialize and stay in my own neighborhoods and work in them. I specialize in retail and office and mixed-use properties. I rehab hotels and old shopping centers. I actually owned this shopping center before. When the old Ace Hardware became available, I bought it back.
"The thought was, 'Who wants to go in one of these old shopping centers?’" Anderson says. "And the only thing we could get at the time was a 99 Cents store. The mayor came to me and asked, 'Is there anything better we can do?'”
Crazii Potatoez and a vegan eatery called Peace, Love & Eatz. There's also a bakery called Delightful Sweets.
“It’s not just about leasing space and making money,” Anderson says. “It’s really about curating the space, putting the right tenants in here — the right occupants. Everything from the photographer to the health club to dance, to food, to retail. Having a good mixture ensures someone is here all the time, and that something is going on here all the time.”
"There are not enough black-owned businesses, there’s not enough black-owned real estate, there’s not enough black-owned banks. The secret sauce is in the locals." — Monte Anderson
In June 2017, a pitch day was held for those interested in becoming a part of the marketplace, and 40 applicants pitched their business. A committee oversaw the application process.
“I design handbags, hats and earrings," she says. "I was home-based at first. But a friend of mine who happens to be one of my clients told me about the marketplace. This is my first time stepping out so I’m looking forward to great things."
Another marketplace tenant is photographer Enoch Odu of Enoch Odu Studios.
"DeSoto is a neat community, a safe community. Dallas is cool, but I think there’s a lot of uncovered things here.” — Enoch Odu
“I grew up in DeSoto, but I was never actually here in DeSoto,” Odu says. “We didn’t do anything here. We’d wake up and shoot straight over to Dallas. That’s where I would conduct business. That’s where I’d meet friends. But DeSoto is a neat community, a safe community. Dallas is cool, but I think there’s a lot of uncovered things here.”
“What I find in the African American community is an extreme amount of creativity and a lack of experience when it comes to access to practice business,” Anderson says. “I think it’s so important that we figure out how to build wealth for local people, bottom line. There are not enough black-owned businesses, there’s not enough black-owned real estate, there’s not enough black-owned banks. The secret sauce is in the locals. It’s in the culture of the locals.”