Flint, MI–Since the recent Black Lives Matter protests and the economic hit small businesses have taken due to COVID-19, there has been a push across the country to support local Black-owned businesses.
About two months ago, six students at University of Michigan-Flint began working to create an event to help people do just that.
Saturday, Aug. 22, from 4 to 8 p.m. there will be a Black Business Fair at the Chevy Commons parking lot.
There will be almost thirty vendors selling food, art, fashion and more. Attendees are required to wear masks and practice social distancing.
The event is free to attend, but there will also be a raffle to win some of the local businesses’ products including candles, workout sessions and a makeover.
Ticket prices are $1 for one ticket, $3 for five tickets, $5 for ten tickets.
All the money from the raffle tickets will go to the Whaley’s Children’s Center.
Ashley McIntosh ‘Empress’, Emanee Walker, Jenae Franklin, Ashley Johnson, Tiffany Renèe, and A’vion Edelen put the event together.
“It was pretty much a bunch of college students that came together and decided to do something for the community,” McIntosh said.
They took to social media looking for Black businesses that would be interested in being a part of a ‘pop-up shop’ and got hundreds of messages.
McIntosh, who will have her own table set up as a poet for hire, said she wants the event to “emphasize how important it is to utilize the dollar in the community around you.”
In Flint, a predominantly Black city, she said it’s important to promote Black businesses.
“Since COVID-19 hit, many businesses are struggling,” McIntosh said. “People’s motivation to keep their personal business alive has gone downhill because of it, so we want to encourage young business owners to keep going, keep striving, and know that the community has your back.”
Attendees will be able to shop and engage with local Black-owned businesses, but the fair will also give business owners a chance to network with each other.
“There’s this idea in society of how important it is to be independent and build your business from the ground up…we forget how much the community really helps us,” McIntosh said. “It’s so important to recognize the power that you have within your community.”