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Archive CLT was founded in 2021, birthed from a lifelong passion of collecting Black memories and stories nurtured by owner Cheryse Terry.
The Black Wall Street Times spoke with Terry about what inspired her to create a space rooted in community, collecting, and coffee.
When you visit Archive CLT, the celebration of Blackness greets you at the door.
From the poppin’ playlists to the historic homages of respected writers, artists, and creators, Archive CLT is an unapologetic celebration of Black culture.
Terry mentioned, “Representation for me is a little more than just being Black in the space. I represent Black teen mothers, I was a teen mother. I also represent myself as Black Charlottean from the west side.”
“I just wanted to see myself in the space and give inspiration to those that didn’t go to college like me but still had aspirations to show that we can turn our dreams into reality,” said the archivist.
Archive CLT is in honor of Terry’s mother, Yvonne.
Terry first started collecting Vintage magazines depicting Black lives, experiences, challenges and accomplishments after the passing of her mother in 2014.
Realizing that she didn’t ask her mother enough questions to gather what her youth would have been like, Terry started collecting 1970s ephemera, the era that her mother Yvonne would have been in her 20s.
Located at 2023 Beatties Ford Rd., this historical Black-owned location was still Black-owned and recently redeveloped when Terry opened Archive CLT.
Committed to the preservation of Black culture through custom t-shirts, culture, and coffee, Terry loves her historic and sacred grounds.
“Honestly, my fondest memories are on the West being Black, being free, and feeling seen.”
Reflecting on her earlier years, Terry commented, “it was all fun memories. We had West Fest in the summer time at the rec center. I remember at Hornets Nest Park people would slow-creep their cars with music playing. It was just the vibe.”
“West Charlotte is the Black Mecca of Charlotte. This area is most indigenous to Black people in Charlotte,” says Terry.
Fascinated by the fashion, stories and experiences of the people that lived before her, ignited a yearning to collect, preserve and share with others.
Starting with an intimate online following, Cheryse began sharing vintage images of Black people living everyday life and soon attracted the attention of fellow collectors and ones aspiring.
With investment funds and the support of the community, locally and digitally, Terry’s concept was fully funded and Archive CLT opened its doors on Saturday, August 27, 2022.
Asked about the young Black girls who visit her shop, Terry responded, “it’s the expression on their faces.”
She continued, “First, they see the wall mural or the Pac-Man machine or their mother’s point out that I’m the owner. Sometimes we end up taking pictures together and I still can’t believe it because it used to be a dream.”
Terry is one of a small number of Black art collectors living in Charlotte currently exhibiting exclusive collections of vintage photography, original paintings, prints, sculptures, furniture, vinyl records, and other culturally specific ephemera.
As Archive CLT bops to the beat with Rap Snacks galore, the culture collector gave her top 5 artists in honor of hip hop’s 50th anniversary:
Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, Kanye West, Jeezy, Outkast
When your favorite all-time Charlotte Hornet is Mugsy Bogues, you’re accustomed to rooting for the classic underdog. For Terry, not only is the Hornet’s legend her G.O.A.T., but he represented what she wants to achieve at Archive CLT.
She explained, “A lot of people describe Archive as a place they grew up, or their grandma’s house, or they feel like they’re at home. I really wanted to give Black people a third space — not work not home, but a third space to really be seen.”
“Mugsy was always undersized but you saw him every time he was on the court. I love that,” said Terry.
Also inspired by her cousin’s Nici’s All-In-One beauty business, Terry remembers being molded by the Black women on the N. Tryon St. shop.
“My cousin had a shop that I absolutely loved. I would just sit in there and all the Black women would come in, get their hair done, gossip, and joke with each other.” Terry continued, “I want Archive to have that same feeling because it was there that I was able to imagine what type of woman I wanted to be.”