There has never been a more important time in recent history for communities to support marketplaces and festivals featuring Black and African diasporic crafts persons and businesses.
With the growing racial wealth gap and increasing shifts of urban centers pushing out Black and other communities of color, along with poor and working class folk, many businesses cannot afford brick-and-mortar establishments. So, many of them go old school. Like, ancient African-Olmec trade routes where they caravan from one site to the next.
Marketplaces, bazaars, collective pop ups and shared commercial spaces are becoming the norm for consumers who prefer shopping local and selecting unique items. Plus, with stores like Macy’s “approximately 125 stores in lower tier malls within three years, and exploring new off-mall formats.”
Shops like Macy’s show a great shift in the consumer who can easily buy things online. With the growing digital market, comes a need to interact with people in the commercial space some way. This is where marketplaces fill the void. For Black companies, the need to interact with customers is critical, and to be visible.
Wayne Smith, former mayor of Irvington, New Jersey, an adjacent city to Newark with a population of about 82 percent Black or African American residents said, “I sincerely [hope] these events allow . . . communities of color to build an infrastructure around economic survival. It allows [us to] know what businesses are out there that we can buy from, support, and recommend. Also we can not expect corporate America and various levels of government to support and buy from businesses we do not support.”
Here is a quick and dirty list of marketplaces and festivals around the country that have vendor spaces you will enjoy. Some of them have skin in the gain, while most are new. The best way to support is show up:
Melanin Market LA: Los Angeles
Black History Month Bazaar: Oklahoma City
Malcolm Shabazz Market: Harlem
ATL Love Fest: Atlanta
Black Joy Parade and Festival: Oakland
Market 7: Washington DC
Black to the Future Festival: Washington DC
Pan African Film Festival ARTFest: Los Angeles
Gullah Market and Block Party: An Arts, Crafts & Food Expo: Hilton Head, South Carolina
Black Business Bazaar: Englewood, NJ
Melanin Marketplace LA. Photo credit: Melanin Marketplace
Black History Month Market: Atlanta
Pop Up & Sip Pre-Valentine’s Day: For The Love of Black Business: Maplewood, NJ
2020 Black People’s Caucus: Phoenix
Sankofa Marketplace: Inglewood + Sacramento + Oakland
The Afro Market Exchange: Clearwater, Fla.
BLACtivate! | The Black Owned Business Marketplace: Black Love Edition: Philadelphia
Black Food Truck Friday: Charlotte
Indiana Black Farmers Co-op: Indianapolis
Pan African Film Festival ARTFEst Director and Creator, Allohn Agbenya. Photo credit: Pan African Film Festival
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