NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – August is Black Business Month, and Nashville started celebrating earlier this month at the Nashville Farmers’ Market when the Nashville Black Market set up shop.
Co-founded in 2018 by Javvon Jones and Carlos Partee, the Nashville Black Market seeks to provide resources and connections for Black and minority-owned businesses in the Nashville area. Held on the first Friday of each month at the downtown farmers’ market location, dozens of Black-owned businesses set up shop and “circulate the Black dollar.”
“I wanted to start this because I knew there was a lot of Black excellence in Nashville that wasn’t getting the light shone on them,” Jones said. “The importance is to circulate the Black dollar.”
Jones and Partee – both with clothing lines of their own – knew the challenges of opening up a brick and mortar location, so they opted to go a different route and offer Black businesses, entrepreneurs, and vendors the chance to forgo brick and mortar and instead set up flea market style.
What started with 35 vendors has grown precipitously, and Jones said the market is looking to expand operations and make their own mark on the Nashville landscape.
“We’re still looking for more space,” he said. “We have a huge waiting list of people who are trying to sign up but can’t because we’re at capacity.”
Friday, August 5th saw dozens of vendors selling their wares, some for the first time, like Kiara Johnson, who owns Emerald Row Clothing Boutique. She started her business during the beginning stages of the pandemic in 2020 in order to supplement her income.
She said the market was great because it served as a central location for so many Black businesses where each vendor and customer can support one another. Additionally, she told News 2, she likes the resources the market provides, such as clientele and possible business connections.
“I think that when we’re able to get in an environment like this, where we can learn each other’s business and learn what we can do differently, that’s really good,” she said.
Johnson said she has attended past Black Markets as a customer and supporter of Black businesses, but her first visit as a vendor was extremely successful.
“The foot traffic here is unmatched compared to other venues that I’ve been at,” she said. “It feels really good to know that we already have that support, and they haven’t been doing this that long.”
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Kimberly Pointer and her clothing business Lounge Cutie is also a newer vendor at the market who said the advantages were unsurpassed. She started coming to the Nashville Black Market about four months ago and said the market has been well worth the investment.
“I absolutely love everybody coming together once a month; I love the music, the entertainment, the food and supporting one another,” she said. The exposure is so large in the city. People really look forward to coming down here. Fortunately, I get a great turnout for my business. It’s well worth the investment I make to come down here.”
The Nashville Black Market also saw Mayor John Cooper stop by. The mayor’s office announced Cooper would be attending a series of events to highlight the importance of Nashville’s Black business owners and encouraging residents to support and learn more about them.
“Nashville’s Black-owned businesses are an essential part of the cultural and economic fabric in our city,” Cooper said in a statement. “As Mayor, I will continue to pursue equitable initiatives and policies that drive prosperity for minority-owned businesses and encourage entrepreneurship.”
Earlier in the summer, Cooper announced a $10 million investment into the transformation of Burrus Hall on the Fisk University campus into an “innovation incubator.”
“Modeled after similar programs at top universities around the country, the new Burrus Hall will host tech boot camps, mentoring programs, classes, workshops and events to assist emerging entrepreneurs and spur business development right in the middle of the Jefferson Street corridor,” the mayor’s office said of the investment.
The mayor attended the Nashville Black Market and attended a discussion hour with Ernie Allen the first weekend of the month. He will attend the Black Business Month Expo August 14th.
The Nashville Black Market takes place at the Nashville Farmers’ Market, 900 Rosa L. Parks Blvd, the first Friday of each month as well as the third Saturday of each month in The Gulch. For more information on the Nashville Black Market, click here or find them on Facebook and Instagram.