Bye, bye Black Friday—hello “#BuyBlack Friday.” There’s a new holiday shopping tradition, and I’m encouraging everyone to join in. Let’s spend some of our holiday dollars at black-owned businesses, especially on the Friday after Thanksgiving, November 27.
Eleven years ago, when Small Business Saturday launched, it raised the visibility of small businesses during the all-important holiday season. I changed my shopping habits, and now a majority of my holiday dollars go to small and local businesses (even when shopping online). This year, my consciousness has been raised again, and I’m planning to do some of my shopping at black-owned small businesses. What inspired me? A new campaign—“#BuyBlack Friday”—recently launched by Facebook to bring greater attention to black-owned businesses.
“With the death of George Floyd, it motivated people around the world and employees of Facebook to want to do something,” said Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer. “We reached out to our employees, and two, Rachael Hawk and Remi Ray, came up with the idea…Friday is a huge purchasing day. Lots of people want to do something but don’t know what to do—this is something positive they can do. And we’re putting the power and reach of Facebook behind it.”
This year, more than any year, all small businesses, regardless of the race or nationality of the owners, desperately need your support. Covid has been an extinction-level event to small business, with more than 3.3 million businesses—or 22%—shutting down from February to April, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. Black-owned businesses were hit even harder, with 41% closing permanently.
“The 40 counties hit the hardest (by the virus) were where the majority of black businesses were located,” said Ron Busby, President/CEO of US Black Chambers, the national association of African-American Chambers of Commerce.
“We all want to make a difference. I want to make a difference. The employees of Facebook want to make a difference,” said Sandberg. “So when I see something pro-active, such a great idea coming from our employees, I feel proud and optimistic that things like #BuyBlack Friday can make a difference.”
“Every single dollar, every single cent is like tinder to the flame of encouragement,” said Asia Grant, founder of Redoux, a scent and vegan soap company, highlighted by Facebook. “Every time someone buys a soap from me, it’s like someone cheering me on.”
Grant’s experience shows the power of having a spotlight shined on a black-owned business. Her sales increased a whopping 1500% after she was featured on the first episode of Facebook’s #BuyBlack Friday show. “Facebook helps fill the top of the funnel,” Grant explained. “Once we have a customer, the return rate is 30%…Once they’re here, they love being here.”
“If you’re interested in supporting small businesses,” said Grant, “think of your values…Because they’re struggling, your dollars are going to do something. Ask yourself, ‘Am I going to spend ten dollars on Amazon…or am I going to be a little more thoughtful and support a business that doesn’t have the same resources?’”
Busby sees the #BuyBlack Friday movement as an opportunity to introduce more black-owned businesses to consumers across the country. “When we talk about supporting black-owned businesses, we’re talking about supporting an important part of the economy…In order for there to be a great America, there has to be a great black America. For that, there has to be black businesses, and we need customers.”
It’s not charity. Discovering black-owned businesses, you’re likely to find unique and wonderful products too. Grant’s Redoux, for example, can craft custom scents for items such as candles and soaps—which I think is an incredibly clever item for a corporate gift. Sandberg herself found special pieces thanks to the #BuyBlack program. “I’ve found products I love,” she said. “I bought earrings from The Tiny Tassel, from Charleston, South Carolina. It’s such a great product. And Nicole Marie greeting cards are so bright and cheery.”
If you want to check out Facebook’s “BuyBlack Friday” program, look for:
- #BuyBlack Friday Show, a live online event every Friday through Black Friday (11/27) hosted by Phoebe Robinson, a comedian and author (11 am Pacific at Facebook’s Lift Black Voices hub)
- #BuyBlack Friday Gift Guide, featuring products from 60+ black-owned SMBs from across the US
- #BuyBlack Challenge. Tag a black-owned business on Facebook and use #BuyBlackChallenge hashtag to bring more attention to them and encourage others to buy from and tag black-owned businesses as well.
- Instagram #BuyBlackFriday guide highlighting 10 inspirational black-owned businesses starting 11/27
In addition to Facebook’s #BuyBlack Friday program, here are a few other ways to locate black-owned businesses:
- ByBlack.us – a directory of black-owned businesses sponsored by the Black Chambers of Commerce
Let’s be honest—“Black Friday” as a discount day has run its course. And huge online retailers don’t need your money to survive—small businesses do. If ever there was a year to spend your dollars on small businesses, it’s 2020. Put your money where your values are, and #shopsmall and #buyblack.
Copyright Rhonda Abrams, 2020
This article originally ran in USA Today on November 18, 2020