By MORLEY MUSICK
Shoppers, speakers, and entrepreneurs gathered Nov. 30 at the CSO Multiplex for the first annual “Buy Black Saturday.”
According to the event’s organizer, Nancy Ellis, its primary purpose was to support black-owned businesses by keeping “the black dollar in the community.”
The event featured 153 African American vendors in the spacious halls of the Multiplex, situated behind the Planet Fitness on Lake Park Avenue and 47th Street. The variety of small businesses included multiple accessory and jewelry vendors, fitness companies, CBD oil bottlers, and sellers of coloring books, entrepreneurship books, and romance novels.
Ellis sought to separate vendors of similar items in order to prevent competition, so disparate wares could be found standing side-by-side. Eventgoers could find “J T’s” Christian themed t-shirts nearby the “Wanna Pickle” business, which sold unusual flavors like Jerk Pineapple and Blue Raspberry Vodka pickles. Math tutoring services, detox teas, and home security devices could all be found in the same aisle. Customers and vendors alike mingled at vendor tables, exchanging business cards and purchasing wares.
Ellis said the event was inspired by the late Rev. Dr. Webb Evans, also known as “Mr. Buy Black.” As the former president of the United American Progress Association, Dr. Evans advocated that black communities spend money locally and at black-owned businesses. In a profile in the Jackson Advocate, Dr. Evans is reported as stating, “Dr. King stated that he planned to change the struggle for civil rights to a struggle for economic and political empowerment. Since Dr. King is not here to carry out what he had planned… we must march with our dollars in order to accomplish what we were not able to accomplish with our civil rights marches.”
Ms. Ellis’s views echo Dr. Evans’s. She said, “They say that the black dollar only circulates six hours in our community. So, I’m organizing these events to prove that it can last longer than that. The event today runs from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., so that’s 10 hours.” Ellis discussed the importance of entrepreneurship in revitalizing neighborhoods, adding a message to aspiring entrepreneurs, “Wherever you go, make sure you’re always networking with the people around you, and always have your business card on you.”
Buy Black Saturday is the second event Ellis has planned this year, coming four months after her Black Entrepreneur Festival in June. She sponsors and promotes the events through her organization, the “Nosy I Corporation”, which she founded in May 2019 in order to provide networking opportunities to black entrepreneurs and undertake youth intervention efforts.