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Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2023

Ladies Love Downtown


The historic 800 block of Texas Avenue. 825 Texas highlighted.

Meet the women who are reviving 800 Texas Avenue

Forbes, JP Morgan and Harvard Review are all talking about it. Black woman-owned entrepreneurial busnesses are “soaring,” growing 50% in the last few years. Three Shreveport women are part of this significant trend. Their street-front businesses are re-energizing the historic 800 block of Texas Avenue, which, from the early 1920s to the late 1970s, was a diverse, entrepreneurial hub for our city.

Creative, resourceful and tenacious, Angela Smith, Lindora Baker and Juanita Green bring a law practice plus accounting firm, a nonprofit business center and a unique cardio workout studio, respectively, to three commercial spaces directly across from the new Caddo Common Park. While they each offer very different services, these pioneering businesswomen share a love for the area.

“It was pure luck that I found this space,” says Angela Smith, attorney and accountant. “Someone told me about it, and I rented the space the next day.” Smith’s law firm provides legal services for bankruptcy, successions and wills, and First Choice offers accounting and tax services. “But,” she adds, “my passion is helping the families of juveniles placed in public care.”

Smith says she loves where her office is, at 852 Texas Ave., between Ledbetter Heights and the downtown business district. She has fond memories of catching a bus to lunch at Freeman & Harris followed by a day of shopping downtown. “I wanted to be downtown, without being … downtown,” she says. “I wanted the ambiance,” referring to the building that was once The Avenue Pharmacy. Smith says her favorite part of her day is watching the sun rise over the new pavilion in the park.

Her new neighbor, Lindora Baker, agrees that there is something special about the 800 block of Texas Ave. In January of this year, Baker opened XTREME Measures Women’s Business Center at 856 Texas Ave. Baker says her passion for helping the community led her to open the business center, which, she noted, welcomes everyone.

“As a lifelong resident of Shreveport, and after serving 12 years as a Caddo Parish commissioner, I met many people with tabletop hobbies who had no knowledge of how to turn that hobby into a business,” Baker explains. “I saw how economic development could help people and the community.” Baker’s team of business professionals are doing just that. They teach credit building, business essentials, banking basics and small biz toolkits classes.

“I love being across from the park and near Providence House. I love my neighbors,” she said, “All of them. My dream is to help them grow a business.”

Next door, at 854 Texas Ave., is Juanita Green’s The Cardio Spot. She believes in keeping the body moving and active by doing more cardio exercises. “Many people have jobs that require them to sit or stand for long periods.” Green’s favorite saying is, “Your heart and lungs are the only muscle that can’t lift a dumbbell.”

Green moved from California in 2020 and was shocked that the indoor spinning movement had not made its way to Shreveport. She opened All Things Indoor Cycling in 2021 with two locations. After looking at a historic building to restore, Green and her husband, Leon, discovered Shreveport Common. 854 was for lease, and Juanita liked the idea of moving her business to the area. She opened The Cardio Spot in March 2023. In 1910, 854 was the home to News Enterprise, and by 1923, Dr. T. M. Johnson’s dental practice occupied the second floor, now market-rate lofts. Today, the first floor of 854 is alive with spinning, rebound trampoline, kickboxing and hip-hop step classes.

Green believes everyone can exercise.

She thinks fun music, motivational coaches and camaraderie help people stick with it. She and her team are part of the free workouts on Saturday mornings in Caddo Common Park, hosted weekly by Shreveport Regional Arts Council.

Green likes being in the park on Saturday mornings. “It’s different scenery for a workout. There’s no door to walk through. It’s easy to walk up and start working out. It brings the community together.”

Her work neighbors, Baker and Smith, agree. They like being in a place that is for the community. “It’s a special block of small business owners working to help people,” says Baker. Smith says her clients like the area. “Everyone wants to know what’s going on over there.” She has not joined the workout classes next door but hopes to. Then she adds, “Bring the food trucks back!” With food truck hookups across the street, could a culinary entrepreneur be their next neighbor? Baker, Smith and Green say, “Yes!”

Wendy Benscoter is the executive director of Shreveport Common Inc. For more info on Shreveport Common and upcoming events, visit the shreveportcommon Facebook page.


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