Scattered throughout the YMCA parking lot just north of downtown Frederick Saturday, dozens walked between tents and food trucks, browsing through clothing, art and more.
Over a dozen vendors were participating in the SOUL Street Pop-Up Market, an idea that debuted last month at Sky Stage. The market is a place for Black-owned and minority-owned businesses to showcase and sell their work.
SOUL Street founder Shana Knight has been thankful for the community support since the idea was launched, and said it has been very successful so far. If it weren’t for the coronavirus pandemic, organizers were planning to have 30 or so vendors in the YMCA parking lot Saturday.
Still, there were roughly 15 in operation Saturday, a jump from the number of businesses seen in June, she said.
The market serves as a sign to young African-Americans and other minorities that they can succeed and be entrepreneurs, especially against the backdrop of Black Lives Matter protests and other demonstrations nationwide, Knight said.
“We really want the young African-American kids to see people who look like them, being their own boss … people know when they come, they’re buying great products, but they also know they’re supporting Black-owned businesses,” Knight said.
One of the vendors Saturday was Michele Forbes, who operates Michele’s Sea Moss in Frederick and is on the SOUL Street committee that helped set up the market.
Forbes said she’s seen an uptick in business recently, and she sold out of products at last month’s market. She said it’s important for local communities to support not only small businesses, but also those that are owned by minorities.
That idea was seconded by Natasha Bowens Blair, co-owner of Native Mountain Farm of Boonsboro, and another vendor at the market.
Patrons enjoyed the colorful flowers and their aroma at her tent Saturday, as Blair said it’s important for the community to rally around and spend money on minority businesses, sustaining them well into the future.
She was thankful for social media and its power in helping Black-owned and minority-owned businesses unite and advertise themselves to the general public, especially through a Facebook group called “Frederick Minority Owned Businesses,” which has thousands of members.
“We really want this to be more than a movement, we want this to be the new way moving forward,” Blair said. “To see thousands of people seeing and using this group, everyone going to find how they can support a Black-owned community business.”
Saturday’s SOUL Street Pop-Up Market was the first such market for Candace McCrea. She drove up from Prince George’s County to showcase her jewelry, part of her company called Adisa Handcrafted Ornaments.
She was encouraged by the support for Black-owned businesses in the county and region. So was Jarad Bowens, who emceed and was DJ for the market Saturday, just as he did in July.
“This is our own form of peaceful activism,” Bowens said before addressing the crowd gathered at the market Saturday, and introducing the vendors. “So it’s important, about beginning to create that generational wealth for these Black-owned and minority businesses, and introduce them to the community, because so many people may not know about them.”
Follow Steve Bohnel on Twitter: @Steve_Bohnel
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