ACT Right is at it again

BY HOLLY KESTENIS, Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG – For nearly five years now ACT Right has been helping out the community in various aspects. From mentoring and tutoring the city’s youth, to patronizing locally owned businesses, ACT Right has made it their mission to be involved.

“ACT Right to me is a way of life,” said founder Tony Macon who owns Esquire Barbershop, located at 1125 22nd St. S. He views himself as fulfilling a mission from God and hopes people will get on board and join the group.

ACT Right is designed to address both the economic and social development of our community. The concept for economic development is based on three principles: Patronize local businesses; refer other people to patronize local businesses and encourage businesses to do good business.

The other component of ACT Right is focused on social development and that’s where the acronym ACT is highlighted. “A” stands for “Attitude,” “C” for “Courage” and “T” for “Talent.”

Every last Friday of the month, Macon and his partner in patronage Antwaun Wells, a master barber at Esquire, rally up friends, past patronized business owners and whoever else wants to climb aboard their wagon and head out to an establishment in need of a little love and customers.

The last Friday in August, which was last week, ACT Right targeted the cool and refreshingly delectable Tropiccool Gourmet Sorbet and Pop Bar, located at 2246 Central Ave., in downtown St. Petersburg.

About 15 ACT Right members poured in and laid down cold hard cash for some cold and creamy gelato and healthy tropical smoothies. This go round, City of St. Petersburg Urban Affairs Manager Nikki Gaskin-Capehart was in attendance trying not to spill her smoothie all over herself before making it back to at city hall.

“It’s a community effort,” said Macon who believes in a hand up not a hand out. Macon steps out on faith footing the bill for his generosity and believes that by acting right everyday and supporting those in need, good fortune will shine back down on him. “People started understanding and following because they believe in the same thing that I believe in,” he continued. “It’s just a way of life.”

Sitting at a circular table enjoying one of the many specialty pops that Tropiccool offers, his family in tow, was new business owner Cody Angell who just recently opened shop across from Tyrone Mall.

Angell, owner of the new St. Pete Running Company located at 6986 22nd Ave. N., knows what it’s like to be patronized by the fellows of ACT Right. Just a few months ago Macon and his crew showed up to visit Angell’s establishment with an entourage of people. The Chamber of Commerce was represented, a member of city council showed up, as well as a representative from the deputy mayor’s office.

“It brought a lot of people in,” said Angell who noted that even the customers in the store were curious about all the hoopla. “It sparked their interest, so it was certainly a shot into the arm of our business.”

Angell didn’t miss a step though and now joins ACT Right every chance he gets to help out other businesses in the community. “I thought what a great idea,” said Angell, “This guy Tony’s got his stuff together and it just makes a lot of sense on so many different fronts.”

Although Macon and Wells differ on which business they first started with, the result has been extremely positive. Wells likes surprising mom and pop business owners finding that when the ACT Right group shows up it’s often at a much-needed time. That was just such the case when they visited Blew Chocolate, a black-owned multicultural hair salon on the Deuces, on one of their outings.

“There were two beauticians in there doing their own hair, they had no clientele,” said Wells who would like to see black businesses thrive in south St. Petersburg. “We all walked in and patronized them, and it was probably the best day they had that week.”

The mission behind ACT Right is to not only patronize local businesses themselves, but also to refer other people to frequent local businesses when they can. In return, ACT Right encourages the businesses they visit to adopt and maintain good business practices such as stellar customer service, timeliness and to put out a quality product.

“The whole idea is to support local businesses in the community and to get as many people as we can to go out and support with us,” said Wells who hopes with every new business patronized, residents of St. Petersburg will join the cause.

ACT Right encourages the community to get in touch if they see a business that is failing or in need of some TLC. Macon pledges to do his part and patronize as much as he can.

“It don’t matter who you are or what walk of life you come from,” said Macon, “if you got the heart to help somebody, we’ll follow with you. That’s all it takes.”

So if you would like to check out local small businesses along with ACT Right, both Macon and Wells encourage you to give them a call or connect with them on Facebook.  Wells can be reached at 727-657-8621 or at Antwaun.wells@gmail.com.

ACT Right also collects recyclable bottles for donation to St. Anthony’s Hospital to help fight cancer and plans to kicks off a food donation program this month.

To reach Holly Kestenis, email hkestenis@theweeklychallenger.com

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