First published July 12, 2021.
If you’re driving down Prairie Avenue in Beloit, you will find one of three Black-owned businesses owned by Byron Matthews and his wife Cristy. They operate and own Matthews Family Trucking, clothing store B&C Fitz, and B&C Hand Car Wash. In addition, there will be a sports bar coming soon.
The Matthews value family and community and want to change negative perspectives of Black businesses.
“When you come to a Beloit, you see all these businesses and stuff, but you don’t see us unless you know it’s a Black business,” said Byron Matthews. “That’s why I have our brand going up everywhere. I want them to see us … let them know we’re here and running good legitimate Black businesses. That’s always been a dream of mine. I just want to create a better business image of Black businesses.”
Their businesses are family-owned and operated. Matthews has businesses operated by relatives including his son, father-in-law, and his wife. Outside of the family, his businesses employ 30 people. He and his wife are running their businesses with their own revenue because, Matthews says, banks don’t provide financial support to all businesses.
“These banks aren’t loaning to Black folks. I’m doing all this out of this success of my trucking company,” said Matthews. “I mean every time you go into a bank, I hit him with the business proposal, and they say I’ve been in operation for a year. But my numbers don’t lie. My trucking company is doing amazing. And it has allowed me to open up these other businesses.”
B&C Hand Car Wash, located at 2250 Prairie Avenue, is now open Mondays-Saturdays from 7 a.m.-9 p.m. and Sundays from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. They wash cars, SUVS, boats, semi-trucks, and motorcycles. Matthews emphasized the importance of Black businesses catering to all businesses. He wants Black businesses to support other Black businesses, while the community and residents support all businesses, creating revenue flow throughout the city. His goal is to recreate the Black Wall Street of Tulsa in Beloit.
“Opening all these Black businesses here in Beloit with the image of us is important,” said Matthews. “Come in and support us. Not just because I’m Black, but because I have good business and good service. Because I’m providing something for our community. And it’s a circle. If we invest in each other, we can keep going around and around.”
The Matthews are trying to provide Beloit with something special with their businesses. Mr. Matthews is a Chicago native and moved to Beloit to provide a safer and better life for his children. He and his wife have been in Beloit for years and invest in their community through donations at schools and other programs. They are in Beloit for the long run and have great businesses and services to provide to the area.
“We are here,” said Byron Matthews. “They know we are here, but I want them to see that we’re here. There’s no difference between us and them. We have good business and I want them to see us. That’s it.”