For many consumers of color, finding a black-owned business to support can be difficult; but now there are modern conveniences like the Black Wall Street app and countless Facebook groups that will suggest black merchants to patronize.
But also, here in Atlanta, there are institutions, like the Village Market, that share with their communities of consumers how to buy black while empowering the vendors that help create this space.
In fact, the Village Market ATL hosted its largest attended market event last month at the Georgia Freight Depot during Black Friday as well as Small Business Saturday. With more than 100 vendors, its founder LaKeysha “Key” Hallmon Ph.D., said she saw an immediate impact that the Village Market has had here in Atlanta.
“The purpose of the market isn’t just to create a space for people to sell their products but to encourage our community to spend money with people that look like them,” Hallmon said. “I know that we show up for each other.”
There is a process of being a part of this market and she looks for high-quality businesses. She works with them on marketing and sustainability beyond their Village market presence. The Village Market shows that you can blend “Old Atlanta” and “New Atlanta” while showing our people how to successfully run a business.
Hallmon said that the Village Market uses a rubric to determine which black-owned businesses around Atlanta it chooses to work with. The factors Hallmon and her team consider include social impact; visibility of the business; and, having an operable website.
Apparently, the success of the Village Market follows national trends. According to the Nielsen study titled “Resilient, Receptive And Relevant,” Black buying power has seen an 86 percent increase since 2000 and accounts for 8.7 percent of the nation’s total.
The growth in black buying power stems in part from an increase in the number of black-owned businesses as well as from an uptick in education among the African-American population, which leads to higher incomes.
Despite historically high unemployment rates, Blacks have shown resilience in their ability to persevere as consumers. Further, in Atlanta, African-Americans make up more than 50 percent of the population. The city is known for attracting black entrepreneurs.
According to a more recent study by the Nielsen report titled, “African-American Women: Our Science, Her Magic,” the businesses run by and the brand loyalty of Black women is driving part of the economy, so much so that total Black spending power is expected to hit a record $1.5 trillion by 2021.
“Black women have strong life-affirming values that spill over into everything they do,” said Cheryl Grace, senior vice president of U.S. Strategic Community Alliances and Consumer Engagement for Nielsen. “The celebration of their power and beauty is reflected in what they buy, watch and listen to, and people outside their communities find it inspiring,”
“Understanding how Black women’s values affect their buying decisions has long been a marketing necessity,” Grace added. “Now, marketers must also recognize the intercultural influence of Black women on the general market as an increasingly vital part of how all women see themselves, their families and the rest of the world.”
Hallmon encouraged black entrepreneurs to understand that promoting their own business beyond the market is key to their sustainability. She values the “community impact” that most of the vendors already have in place before being confirmed.
“It’s important for business owners to know that it isn’t solely about them, but what are they doing to promote others as well,” she said. “This market set up proves that you can find ways to buy black all year round and learn how to navigate through the mainstream consumer market.
There’s an African proverb that states, “It takes a village to raise a child.” In this case, perhaps it takes a village to show that markets like this can be done all over America.
In fact, Hallmon said the Village Market is working towards traveling to other cities in 2018 and that she is confident that more people will invest in entrepreneurs.
Hallmon wants to promote community sustainability and to also create buying culture in other cities: “The circulation of the dollar is what is important in this community,” she said.
Hallmon learned this community concept early in Mississippi from her grandmother, where she grew up watching her run a successful business as an entrepreneur.
Hallmon explained that she learned how to make sure that her member entrepreneurs understand there is enough money to go around while creating sustainability.
She personally writes reviews for the entrepreneurs and she shares her experiences with everyone
The next installment of Village Market Atlanta will be on Dec. 17 at the Georgia Freight Depot.