Founder of Closed Down 25-Year Old Black-Owned Gift Shop & Bookstore Reopens Online

What began as a love of collecting unique items that speak to the African American spirit and experience, now serves as a way for Mary Wilson, an African American entrepreneur, to share her passion with others. It was 25 years ago when she established Heritage House in Charlotte, N.C., originally coined as an African accessory shop.

It was truly a family affair from building counters, installing display fixtures, decorating, and even store management. The shop specialized in art, books, cards, gifts, home décor, and gifts that reflected the African American tradition of faith, family, fitness, and fun. Five years later, Mary made the difficult decision to close the doors of her brick and mortar shop as she transitioned to a position as a corporate attorney. And while Charlotte locals could still find some of her items at The Gallery, a shop within her home church, Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, it wasn’t quite the same for Mary.

“The Charlotte community was so quick to embrace us,” Mary shared. “My husband, Cornell, and I loved the sense of community and the friendships that developed after opening our store. Making the decision to close was incredibly tough. I missed seeing customers and searching for the next unique item to showcase at Heritage House.”

For Mary, her passion to discover unique items that celebrate African culture into the hands of people around the world has remained alive over the years. In October 2020, Mary launched Heritage House as an online store, giving individuals from around the world the opportunity to browse and purchase items that celebrate and support the rich African American culture. Her husband, Cornell, a retired Marine has joined her in this new adventure.

“My vision is to share the breadth and depth of who we are as African Americans and to honor the great diversity within our community,” Mary shared. “I am humbled by and grateful for the support of all those who have and will share in this journey.”

To learn more about Heritage House and to shop its unique curated collection of art, books, cards, gifts, and home decor, visit or follow the brand on Facebook and Instagram.