Business was going well for Olivia McCray last year. She started an online holistic beauty store, Liv With Nature All Natural Products, in April 2019, and by early 2020, she was hoping to expand.
“I was actually on my way to invest in a brick-and-mortar,” McCray said. “And then COVID happened.”
McCray said the pandemic caused her to rethink her plans, and for now, she’ll be keeping her operations online. She added that she applied for a small business loan but never received it.
“I’m self-funded, so everything that I do in my business, it comes from my own funding,” she said.
This year, many businesses in the Florin Square Shopping Center in South Sacramento are participating in a Shop Black Friday event to encourage consumers to support African American-owned businesses on one of the nation’s biggest shopping days. This will be the event’s fourth year.
Organizer Berry Accius said the call to support Black businesses is particularly strong this year given the pandemic-related economic slump and recent calls for racial justice.
“We don’t for whatever reason get the bail-outs like other businesses do,” Accius said, adding that when Black business owners do get financial support, it’s often not enough.
The California Black Chamber of Commerce estimates that 95% of Black-owned businesses did not qualify for many of the federal Paycheck Protection Program loans because they are sole proprietors.
African American business owners have reported being hit hard by restrictions on hair salons and barbershops. Studies have shown that Black owners are less likely to have access to capital to start small businesses, and when they do, they typically receive less money than their white counterparts.
Sacramento’s Chamber estimates that 40-60% of Black-owned businesses could go under during the pandemic. And yet, Jay King, president of the Chamber said that African Americans are big spenders. He says in Sacramento alone, African Americans spend on average $8 billion a year.
Other studies say the “Black Dollar” spends just six hours in an African American community. Accius said he’d like for the Shop Black Friday event to begin to change that spending pattern.
“We spend trillions of dollars over the holidays, so why are we continuing to spend our dollars on corporations and businesses that don’t give a damn about us?" The event will have over a hundred small businesses participating. Shopping will happen both inside the Florin Square Center as well as outdoors. Accius said organizers will be enforcing safety protocols like sanitizing and mask wearing.
Ayesha Ransom-White, owner of The Retail Pop Up Venue which leases business space to up-and-coming businesses, says she feels optimistic about the future of Black-owned businesses. The pandemic has been tough for many shop owners, she says, but she’s also seen small scale start-ups crop up out of people’s homes.
“A lot of people had to leave their jobs because of COVID, so they got set in the entrepreneur mindset,” Ransom-White said.
The event is open to all members of the public on the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving at 2251 Florin Road, Sacramento. The marketplace will run from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. on November 27, and noon to 7 p.m. on November 28.
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