African-American consumers met African-American vendors for a holiday shopping event during the annual Buy Black Expo, held at First District Plaza, 3901 Market St. on Saturday.
Hundreds of holiday shoppers gathered at the 11th Annual “Buy Black” Holiday Shopping Expo organized by the National Alliance of Market Developers, Inc., to purchase gifts in an effort to help keep more dollars in their community.
Clothing items, accessories, paintings and a host of other services and products were available and the attendees were people of all ages.
Not only did the event provide an opportunity for Black people to do business together, but it was also an educational opportunity as well, since a panel discussion was also a part of the day’s itinerary.
Shalimar Blakely, executive director of the African-American Chamber of Commerce, described the event as “fantastic.”
“I’m working and spending money at the same time,” she said. “I’m really enjoying the vendors that are here, and just the support of each other; just to have all of us in one room and knowing that we are doing something positive in our community.”
The event was also an opportunity for African-American businesses owners to network with one another as well as fellowship among their own.
“I’m talking to businesses and helping them to realize the spending power that we have in the African-American community and what it means to have that spending power and to make sure that they reinvest it back into the community,” Blakely said.
Errol Muhammad, the president of the Alliance Philadelphia chapter, described his role in the expo as “keeping everything going.”
“I started out as a photographer for the organization,” said Muhammad about his history with the organization. “The concept is to bring the Black consumers, or any consumers, to the Black vendor. I always say that they aren’t just vendors, but they are ambassadors and their job is to create and build jobs.”
He said in order for Black vendors to build jobs and provide valuable, quality goods and services to the community, the vendors will need public support.
People such as Eric Hamilton, who co-founded a mobile app that locates Black businesses, traveled to Philadelphia just to support the Expo.
“I’m here to support all Black businesses,” said Hamilton who said he heard about the Expo from his friend and Alliance national chairman Norm Bond.
The event also featured musical performances, a fashion show and spoken word performances in addition to its panel discussion.
Panelists included: Stephanie Renee, WURD 900AM program director; Michael Coard, attorney and community activist; Tracy Davis, marketing and sales manager at Omega Optical; and Harold T. Epps, president and CEO of PRWT Services. Norm Bond, global strategist at NormBond & Associates moderated the panel.