Shopping small and buying Black makes a big impact

The holiday shopping season is here, and the right gifts for family and friends await at your local small businesses. Dedicated to supporting small businesses and communities across the country, Small Business Saturday is Nov. 28.

“For ten years, Small Business Saturday has been an impactful day,” Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Hatcher, D.V.M. said. “This year, shopping local is more meaningful than ever. Small business owners have made adjustments during the pandemic to keep shoppers and employees safe. When you shop local, you sustain the economy, you encourage entrepreneurs, and in return, you get high quality products and services from people who care about your community.”

First observed in the United States on November 27, 2010, Small Business Saturday is a counterpart to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which feature big box retail and e-commerce stores respectively. By contrast, Small Business Saturday encourages holiday shoppers to patronize brick and mortar businesses that are small and local.

The first event was created by American Express, in partnership with the non-profit National Trust for Historic Preservation, Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, and Roslindale Village Main Street.

This year, consumers are being asked to especially buy from Black small businesses.

“Buying from Black-owned shops, stores and brands is one of the many ways to be an ally and show support to a community that has been deeply affected by systemic racism,” said Marc H. Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League.“Not only are Black business owners turned down for loans twice as often as their white counterparts, but they have also been hit the hardest by the coronavirus pandemic. Your money can make a difference, especially when you continuously choose to buy Black for everyday lifestyle staples like makeup, clothes, food, and more.”

A national push to support Black businesses began soon after George Floyd protests erupted in Minnesota. Small-business owners and activists took to social media with the #BuyBlack hashtag to spotlight different companies.

The work is paying off, some entrepreneurs have said. “It’s great seeing people realize that where they shop can be another form of activism and that it’s a way to put your money where your mouth is,” said Randy Williams, founder of Talley & Twine, a watch company. “You’re helping Black businesses become self-sustaining, and that helps the whole ecosystem.”

The coronavirus pandemic has damaged retailers large and small, across all ethnic lines, but studies show that Black-owned businesses were hit particularly hard. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that small-business ownership in the U.S. dropped 22% between February and April, but Black ownership dropped 41% — the greatest decline among all racial groups.

Thousands of Black businesses have already closed for good and more could be shutting later this year. Part of struggle for Black businesses stems from their difficulty securing bank loans during the first wave of the pandemic. Many Black-owned businesses also reported being left out of the Paycheck Protection Program, a federal lending initiative geared to smaller employers.

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