Rashida Watson looks forward to welcoming customers on Small Business Saturday.
Watson, who owns The Silk Tent in West Philadelphia, said the Nov. 30 observance provides an opportunity for people to support African-American-owned and neighborhood businesses during the holiday shopping season.
“During this time of year, our Black-owned business get kind of ignored due to the major emphasis of shopping at malls and major retail stores. Our businesses can’t compete with that because a lot of the consumer items that those stores sell — like flat screen TVs — our stores don’t carry,” said Earl Harvey, an advisory board member with the iBuyBlack business initiative.
“That’s just the nature of retail. However, it is incumbent upon consumers to make a conscious effort to identify smaller Black-owned businesses and make an effort to support them as well,” he said.
American Express created Small Business Saturday in 2010 as a way to help such merchants get more customers. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, consumers who shopped at independent retailers and restaurants on that day reached a record high of $17.8 billion in 2018.
This weekend, some African-American vendors will get in on the economic action, during events such as those being held at Vision Venue Pop Up stores on South Street and at Roosevelt Mall.
Brittany Williams, who founded the Vision Venue in 2018, provides a retail space for entrepreneurs. Approximately 500 vendors have used the South Street pop-up location since its inception last year.
“I started out as a small business and just really found interest in how can I help the community and for us to create a safe space where small businesses can always turn and have the same opportunity as the big brands,” said Williams, who strategically decided to open her shops in prime areas.
“We make unaffordable prime real estate locations affordable, by bringing us all together and maximizing on that traffic and introducing our products,” she said.
The Pop Up Store at 2329 Roosevelt Blvd. will host a Black Friday party from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. featuring a DJ, performances, a food caterer and 25 vendors.
iBuyBlack will hold a Cash Mob at 12 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the 410 South St. site, with 15 cosmetics, clothing, health product, gift basket and jewelry vendors.
More than 30 entrepreneurs will show their wares during a Small Business Saturday event hosted by Beautiful Minds Think Alike from 12 to 6 p.m. at Majestic Ballroom, 800 W. Olney Ave.
Consumers can choose from an array of offerings including candles, cheesecake, costume jewelry, decorative mirrors, handbags, home decor and soaps.
Marlo Jones, a member of BMTA and Paparazzi jewelry consultant, said that it was beneficial for the entrepreneurs to team up and host a major event for shoppers.
“We just came together as a group of women to support each other and help each other,” Jones said.
When people shop in their neighborhoods or at small business events like those planned, their dollars stay in the community and circulate here, Watson said.
“I myself support other local businesses in the area,” she said. “And just putting on the hat of a consumer, I want to see them succeed.”