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Beacon’s Retiring After Serving East Side 60 Plus Years



Arthur & Alvin Abelman

Good old fashion customer service is hard to come by nowadays, especially in retail shops. But personable service has kept Beacon’s thriving for more than 60 years on the city’s East Side. 

Early next year, the long-time retail establishment will close its doors. Owner Arthur Abelman said, “it’s time for him to enjoy retirement.”  

Arthur’s father, Alvin, opened Beacon’s Mercantile (they later dropped Mercantile) soon after he added loan service to his door-to-door business of selling clothes and jewelry. The state of Texas told him in order to keep his loan business, he had to have a storefront by the next 90 days if he was going to collect payments. And that’s how he found the store at 321 N. New Braunfels. 

Beacon’s established itself as a place for customers to look fashionable. If you want to look sharp at Sunday service, you will find three-piece suits and dress shoes. There’s also a collection of Dickies and casual wear for the night out on the town, such as fedoras and Kangol hats. The store even has a variety of women’s business attire and stylish clothing to make any (church) first lady or usher look fashionable.

Sometimes visitors come to just talk in the showroom area (aka the “cocktail lounge”) and that’s fine because Arthur Abelman and his team of three salespeople know customers by their first names. At Beacon’s, shoppers won’t find an online store to accompany the storefront because Arthur Abelman believes that’s a “lazy way” to do business. He said to prevent returns; customers need to feel the item and try it on.

Keith Scott, who recently took advantage of Beacon’s “Retirement” sale, said Arthur’s father, Alvin, knew everyone’s name, and when Arthur took over, it was no different. 

Scott said the best thing Beacon’s did was help working-class people who often couldn’t afford school uniforms or other nice clothes. He added Beacon’s let people have tabs (in-store accounts and layaways) to afford nice clothing. 

“At major retailers, you can’t leave with the clothes and not pay. Who does that, and that’s what Alvin and Arthur did. They trusted people in the community with their merchandise and trusted they would pay,” Scott said. 

Beacon’s offers layaway plans and handles its own in-store accounts. These services make it easier for consumers on a budget to look fashionable. 

Arthur Abelman said when his father first started renting the shop at N. New Braunfels, they grew to be successful and no longer needed to borrow money from the bank. Even with the loan business discontinuing, they bought their building at 321 N. New Braunfels and the building next to it. Despite the big-box stores and the online retailers pushing many mom-and-pop shops out, Arthur Abelman said last year was one of their best years in business. 

“We have grown with the people on the East Side. The West and South areas of the city have embraced us too because we try to give a quality product at a reasonable price,” said Arthur Abelman, adding customers also come from Corpus Christi, the Valley, Austin, and all parts of Texas. 

But over the years, Arthur Abelman has seen the challenges of the East Side, including more crime, increased homelessness, and not enough effort from the city to improve the area. With gentrification moving into the East Side, Arthur Abelman said it will be hard for residents and business owners to pay more taxes with property values going up.  

In 1960, when Beacon’s became an official brick-and-mortar store, the nation was going through civil unrest with the beginnings of the Civil Rights Movement with lunch-counter sit-ins hitting most cities, including San Antonio. But Alex Abelman (Alvin’s father and Arthur’s grandfather) had already developed a rapport with the community since 1935 when he used to sell merchandise from his bike in the Beacon Hill area of San Antonio. At the young age of 99 in 2021, Alvin Abelman passed away. Alvin and Arthur operated the store together for more than 50 years. Arthur said his father never forced him to go into the family business. 

“I started at Beacon’s with very little pay, but we grew to be successful. We had arguments, but when we locked the store, business was over, and that’s how we maintained a good working relationship,” Arthur Abelman said. “Working in retail is a great place to get a background in customer service. That person is not just buying something but helping to pay your salary. If you don’t treat them right, they won’t come back. You have to be personable. That’s what my father and I believed.”

Arthur Abelman said he’s leaving the business with a heavy heart, “but is looking forward to a new chapter” in his life.” 

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Stork’s Nest Community Conversations




Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated, Alpha Pi Zeta Chapter launches its Stork’s Nest Community Conversations program, with its first event on Feb. 18 at St. Philip’s College from 10 am to noon.  

Stork’s Nest Community Conversations will bring expectant mothers, their support groups, health and medical care experts, advocates, and government leaders together. Its purpose is to educate and engage on pregnancy and women’s health topics.  

March of Dimes 2022 Report Card depicts the need for collaborative work and innovative ideas to improve Texas preterm births. Texas’ preterm birth rate is 11.4% (D-). Bexar County and San Antonio’s preterm birth rates are 12.0% (F). The preterm birth rate among Black women in Texas is 41% –  higher than among other women. 

The Alpha Pi Zeta Chapter will host four Community Conversations throughout the year. On May 20, the topic is Learn How Legislation Affects You: Meet the Medical and Government Experts. On Aug. 19, the topic is Postpartum Education: What to Expect When You and Your Baby Come Home. And on Nov. 18, there will be a health fair, and a conversation on You are in Control: Health and Finances. 

The sorority’s Stork’s Nest 3.0 e-Learning Course also educates pregnant women to help improve birth outcomes and develop healthy lifestyles. Since 2021, the Stork’s Nest 3.0 e-Learning Course has enrolled 108 clients and has averaged an 86% graduation rate. The sorority partners with the Alpha Pi Zeta Foundation, the March of Dimes, the City of San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, African American Health Disparities Council.

The Feb. 18 Stork’s Nest Community Conversations will be in the Turbon Student Center on the 2nd floor of St. Philip’s (1801 Martin Luther King Drive). To learn more about future Community Conversations, just put Stork’s Nest Community Conversations in the search bar of Eventbrite.

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Black History Events – Safe Spots for Black Motorists to IKEA Exhibit




Black history is American history 365 days a year, and here are some events in February from the San Antonio African American Community Archive and Museum (SAAACAM) to learn about African American influences and achievements. Located at La Villita (218 South Presa), the mission of SAAACAM is to collect, preserve and share the cultural heritage of African Americans in the San Antonio region. 

Feb. 7 from 10  am – 11 am – Story Time in the Park at the Hemisfair (434 S. Alamo Street). Each month young explorers learn and play around the theme of being different while being included. A short story is shared followed by a hands-on learning activity. 

Feb. 11 from 1 pm – 3 pm  – Black History River Tour (218 South Presa). Join SAAACAM on the San Antonio River for a 100-minute cruise exploring San Antonio’s Black history and the holiday lights that adorn the Riverwalk. The trip starts at La Villita, where it travels north through the Museum Reach to the Pearl, then back downtown to the Alamo, Convention Center and back to La Villita. Participants will be surprised at the continued African American influence in San Antonio.

Feb. 13 from 8 am – 10 am – Black Resistance at the Lunch Counter (IKEA Live Oak, Live Oak). SAAACAM and IKEA Live Oak celebrate the opening of the new exhibition at IKEA Live Oak “Black Resistance at the Lunch Counter,” with a complimentary breakfast. The exhibit will be available to the public for viewing from Feb. 13 through March 16. 

Feb. 22 from 2 pm – 4 pm – Green Book Historic Marker Unveiling (218 South Presa). View the locations of San Antonio’s Safe Spots for Negro Motorists during the Jim Crow era researched by students of the Texas A & M University-San Antonio, Methods of Historical Research Class (2022) led by Dr. Pamela Walker. This is a free event, but registration is required.

For more information about the different events and how to participate, visit (

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People of Color Increasing Pet Ownership




By Melissa Monroe

I have a confession to make. When my son was 5 years old, I lied and told him our beloved dog, Simba, ran away. You see, Simba, a beautiful white spitz mix breed, wasn’t the fun-loving character like on Lion King. Instead, he was the vicious growling Cujo. 

Simba wanted to go everywhere with us when my daughter was born (when my son was 5). He was loving to the family, but no one could pet him. I mean, NO ONE! We would have to put him in a bedroom when someone wanted to visit. After 10 years, I had to make the hard decision to give him to San Antonio Animal Care Services

After that experience, I was traumatized from owning another pet but finally gave in when my two kids wanted a toy poodle. Mojo now is much different, though he has issues too. He does allow people to at least touch him. So why this long intro? Because, like many people of color, I didn’t want to be stereotyped as not being a good pet owner since I’m not white. In fact, Mojo gets his “hair done” more than I do. I even had pet insurance for him at one point. 

Pet owners like myself are fueling the billion-dollar pet industry. According to consumer market research company, Package Facts, the U.S. pet industry continued its strong advance in 2021, surging 14% overall to $123 billion. The company also reported that pets now live in 67 million U.S. households, and multicultural pet owners are a key reason. 

Hispanics, Asians, and African Americans are an influential and growing segment among owners of dogs, cats, and other pets. Compared to a decade ago, pet owners are now more likely to be a member of a multicultural population segment (28% in 2018 vs. 22% in 2008).

Another reason why I enjoy being a pet owner is because of the love pets show you. Mojo is the first to greet me at the door when I get home and never talks back to me (smile). A large majority of pet owners believe their pets have a beneficial impact on their emotional and physical health. 

We see evidence of that with the increasing demand for service dogs to help ease people with PTSD, autism, seizures, diabetes, and much more. Training for these working dogs can range in the tens of thousands of dollars, and many fail to become top-notch service animals. 

Atlas Assistance Dogs, an organization that trains people to be qualified dog trainers, estimates that there are 16,766 assistance dogs in the North America Region. But this number considers service dogs trained by ADI-accredited organizations. It doesn’t consider service dogs trained by their disabled owners. Atlas says it’s difficult to establish an exact number of service dogs in America. For example, estimates about 500,000 service dogs in the US. 

Service dogs also have legal protection from discrimination. The U.S. Fair Housing Act requires homeowners and housing providers to provide reasonable accommodation for service dogs and not to discriminate. Under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), airline operators in the US are required to accept service dogs as passengers and transport them on flights to, within, and from the United States. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) gives service dogs the right to access public areas and facilities. Operators of public facilities are required to admit them and their handlers without discriminating.

Pet ownership is also great for physical fitness. Researchers analyzed 29 studies published between 1990 and 2010, primarily in the United States and Australia. On average, 60% of dog owners walked 160 minutes per week and four times per week, a greater amount and frequency than people in dog-less households.

So while I miss Simba and think about everything I did to help him – expensive dog training and even having a psychic check him out – YES, I did that too; I’m grateful for the time I had with him and for knowing I did what I could to help him. Sharing a home with a pet is not cheap, but many benefits can be gained. 

Here are some more stats about multicultural pet owners 

  • Hispanics have become an especially significant part of the population of pet owners. The number of Latinos owning pets increased 44% from 15 million in 2008 to 22 million in 2018, a growth rate vastly greater than that experienced among non-Hispanic white pet owners.
  • Although a much smaller population, Asian pet owners grew at the same rate (45%) between 2008 and 2018.
  • During the same period, the number of African American pet owners also increased at a healthy rate (24%).
  • The impact of Latinos on dog or cat ownership has been especially pronounced. Over the past decade, the number of Hispanic dog owners increased by 59%. The number of Latino cat owners likewise increased by 50%.
  • The two most popular pets, dogs and cats, live in 39% and 24% of U.S. households, respectively. One in eight homes has other pets — including fish, birds, reptiles, or small animals such as rabbits, hamsters, or gerbils.
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