CHICAGO–Preparing for Black Friday is similar to preparing for a battle. Knowing the layout of the store in advance is key. The shopper must dress comfortably and be ready for any and everything. But why go through all of that when you can support independent Black business owners and still get similar items without the hassle and extremely long lines? Shopping ‘Black’ this year can save you time.
African Americans once supported Black-owned businesses because of racial segregation laws that kept them from buying from white business owners. Successful Black business districts like Chicago’s Black Wall Street and Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Greenwood community were very popular. Both communities once thrived.
Latrice Mosley-Smith, founder of Haute Fishnet Hosiery, said that Black people need to start shopping Black if they want to help improve their communities.
“We need to rotate our dollars back into our community,” she said. “It’s time for us to start supporting our own because other ethnic groups have no problem coming together.”
Mosley-Smith has no problem helping other entrepreneurs. A member on her team created Southern Belle Custom Bow Ties & Accessories and they uplift each other. Mosely-Smith said that her colleague isn’t competition because the bows compliment her hosiery.
On Small Business Saturday Mosely-Smith will start a new promotion, Hot Chocolate and Haute Hoisery. She will drive around to promote her authorized agents, but she won’t be selling anything. This will also give people the chance to meet her and the team. She will be at Divas-N-Dogs, 7142 S Exchange Ave. Hot chocolate will be passed out.
Eric Williams, owner of The Silver Room, 1442 N. Milwaukee Ave., said people need to start supporting the small, independent businesses again.
“A lot of stuff I have is handmade, one of a kind, it’s not something you’re going to find at any big box store, most of it is made in Chicago, handmade so you’re not only supporting the store, you’re supporting a lot of local artists also,” Williams said.
The Silver Room is celebrating 17 years in December and it sells jewelry for men and women. The store provides custom designs, engraving, and watch and battery repairs.
“I shop local when I can to keep these stores in business,” Williams said. “Folks buy stuff on the Internet, but who are you buying from? It could be from the biggest jerk in the world.”
Another perk of supporting small businesses over large retailers is the extra attention directed toward the customer. Williams says he knows many of his customers and that shoppers appreciate that level of intimacy.
Boutique owner Andrea White agrees and said that instead of going to Macy’s or other similar department stores, give her a chance. Annie’s Accents, 1237 S. Michigan Ave., is 2 years old and she said it isn’t unusual for customers who live in the area to just come in to chat.
“I provide them with an intimate atmosphere; I am willing to offer a deal and they receive personalize service,” White said.
Creating a trusting environment helps customers relax, especially the ones who have body image concerns, she said.
“I want them to feel comfortable here because there are a lot of women who say I’m big back here, but I don’t have anything here or my stomach…well I can fix that,” White said. “It takes a special owner or stylist to know that because shopping is a very emotional thing.”
White travels to different cities and states and attends fashion shows. That’s where most of her pieces come from. She sells women apparel, accessories, scarves, jewelry, candles and fragrances.
And for the young women who still shop at national retail chains Forever21 and H&M, Maryam Garba of Maryam Garba Fashion has a better option.
The fashion designer sells her creations out of her shop, 17 East Pearson Street. The motivation behind creating Maryam Garba Fashion came from personal experiences. After graduating college and entering the corporate arena, Garba quickly realized that the business clothes she needed to be wearing were both “boring” and too pricey.
Eventually her love for fashion drew her from the corporate job, but that experience never left her. She set out to help other young professional women when her business launched in 2011.
“People want clothes with good quality, but also affordable and comfortable and that’s what I offer them,” she said.
Many of the Black-owned businesses are offering Black Friday deals, but because people usually draw to the larger stores, they miss out.
Garba’s dresses will drop from $88 to $50 and separates like blouses will drop from $75 to $40. The Silver Room is knocking off 17 percent on purchases and Annie’s Accents, 20-25 percent.
Some other Black-owned businesses to check out include:
-Culture Connection—natural soaps, shea butter, cultural tees, cultural hoodies, cultural jewelry, films, body fragrance oils, and burning oils, CultureConnection360.com.
-Kilimanjaro International—African shop, jewelry, art, and candles, 1305 E. 53rd St.
–Waxy Desires—customized scented candles, 500 W. Cermak
–Brims and Accessories— specializes in designer hats and handbags, and sells jewelry, 1631 E. 87th St.
–Kiwi’s Boutique–1015 S. Western Ave.
–Angel Minaro Spa–2150 S. Canalport, 3C-14