Black-owned businesses hope consumers will shop local on Black Friday

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Lem Butler is one of the Black business owners counting on the day after Thanksgiving to boost his bottom line. On Tuesday, he traveled from Raleigh to Durham to assist another entrepreneur reeling from the loss of store traffic due to coronavirus concerns.

"We're helping Jeddah's reopen after the lockdown," said Butler, who owns Black & White Coffee Roasters. "We've installed an espresso machine. We're gonna do a coffee popup inside Jeddah's Tea."

At the same time, a short drive away on Durham-Chapel Hill Boulevard, a long line snaked around the Saltbox Seafood Joint for Chef Ricky Moore's Annual pre-Thanksgiving one day specials.



"We serve crab grits at my original location and now at this location here, we're serving lobster rolls," said Moore.

It's one of his biggest days of the year, but other Black-owned businesses that are struggling now count on the prospect of a boost in traffic on Black Friday.

Primarily known by most consumers as the day for big sales, Black businesses and their supporters are promoting it as a day to spend money with local firms including but not limited to Black restaurants.

"Through the pandemic we've lost 40 percent of the Black owned businesses in this country," said Carl Webb, owner of Provident 1898, a co-working space in Durham located inside the Tower at Mutual Plaza. He's working to provide opportunities for Black business networking and sales virtually. "Most Black businesses, given the fact that they're undercapitalized, are also dealing with challenges around making that necessary pivot, using this new technology in the most effective ways."

Webb and business partner Justin Minott have an online opportunity ready to help those who need a boost, at blackholidaymarket.com. It's a continuation of the Black Farmers Market held earlier this year outside Mutual Plaza.

"A number of those farmers, quite frankly, would not have achieved the kind of revenue that would help sustain them, had it not been for that market. So we are extending that," said Webb. "In a COVID world, it's a virtual market. So our hope is to test it, with the Shopify network behind it, to see how it all works, And the goal is to continue it through the year."

Minott said they'll gather online "on December 5, which is a virtual conglomeration of makers, not just restauranteurs not just farmers. Because there are a lot of incredible Black-owned businesses here in Durham."

So those interested in supporting their Black Friday concept can patronize Black-owned businesses while masked and maintaining social distance, or go online where those businesses operate virtually.

"You can go to our primary website, which is provident1898.com, then there's the BlackHolidayMarket.com that you can also go to," said Webb.

Jeddah's Tea in Durham will give coffee to the community on Black Friday. "We're gonna give away free coffee to the Durham community all day, and the first 100 guests receive a free bag of our holiday blend to take home with them," said Lem Butler, who added that he hopes that offer will bring him more paying customers as well.
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