Shop Small: Support Detroit’s Black Small Businesses on Small Business Saturday

By Megan Kirk


Detroit small business owners are gearing up for one of the biggest shopping days of the year, Small Business Saturday. Just in time for the holiday season, the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC) and Detroit Means Business are teaming up to give small businesses the boost and exposure needed for holiday shoppers.

Tenecia Johnson, DEGC’s district business liaison for District One, is spearheading this year’s Small Business Saturday launch. Celebrated each year in November, the annual celebration is a time for shoppers to participate in supporting their local community vendors.

“Small Business Saturday is a national holiday celebrated the first Saturday that follows the Thanksgiving holiday, and it’s really the kickstart to the holiday shopping season where we drive a lot of the shopping traffic to the neighborhood-based businesses, where the dollars are definitely most impacting the community,” Johnson explains. “So, we want to make sure we’re celebrating our neighborhood businesses on this day and leading into the holiday season.

With everything available from specialty items to restaurant services, Small Business Saturday will be the one-stop shop for buying local this holiday season. In competition with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, a time where big businesses offer shopping deals, Small Business Saturday gives community shoppers and entrepreneurs a chance to shine.

“The DEGC, in partnership with Detroit Means Business, are featuring Detroit small businesses on Facebook and Instagram and various media outlets where we’re encouraging some of the neighborhood residents and some of the shoppers in the community to support the neighborhood businesses. A lot of them were impacted negatively by either shutting down or a dip in customer traffic.”

To make shopping smoother for residents, Detroit Means Business and the DEGC is featuring a list of local business as well as introducing an interactive way to locate some neighborhood favorites.

“Currently we are working directly with Detroit area business owners through the Detroit Means Business platform as well as the website where we are showcasing business owners that are offering a special promotion or a special deal or even looking to get some additional exposure for their business,” Johnson explains. “We’re listing them on our website as well as plotting them on a mapping system so people can know exactly where they’re placed throughout the city.

With COVID-19’s impact on commerce, local businesses have faced unforeseen financial hardships. As minority businesses are forced to close their doors across the city, Small Business Saturday will act as a way to garner much needed business, helping to generate revenue and continue to employ residents across the city.

“Due to the impact of COVID-19 on our economy it’s more important now than ever to shop locally,” Johnson says.

Looking to assist companies through Small Business Saturday, Detroit Means Business is hosting workshops and providing additional services to prepare owners for the shopping season.

“We work with new businesses that have recently opened as well as a lot of the business associations that have been established over the last couple of years throughout the city,” Johnson says. “We have them in district four and district one and there is a really strong business presence on the Avenue of Fashion.”

The Avenue of Fashion, located on the city’s west side on Livernois Avenue, is home to several Black-owned businesses including Jo’s Gallery, a neighborhood staple for Black art and custom frames. Launched in 1996, the gallery owner, Garnett Archer, is preparing for the annual small business event.

“We will have specials, framed art, jewelry and giftware; twenty to forty percent off. We also, for Small Business Saturday, will have holiday gift wrapping services in our cafe,” Archer says.

Having history with the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, the gallery owner has worked with the organization on several projects and community events as well as the reconstruction of the famous stretch of shops.

“I have worked with DEGC on many community projects such as Art on the Avenue held September 26, 2020, focusing on promoting the six galleries on Livernois and also on marketing efforts during the construction on Livernois in 2019,” Archer explains.

With hopes of boosting visibility and encouraging shopping local, small business owners are hoping the city comes out and supports Detroit’s entrepreneurs.

“If I could stress and reiterate the importance of supporting neighborhood-based businesses, [especially] this year. This year is different. Its definitely going to take a collaborative effort to show [support to] the business owners that are providing services year in and year out to the community whether it’s our barbershops, our daycare center or picking up lunch on the weekends. Its our turn to reiterate that service back to them and show them that they can get the community to rally support behind them during this time,” Johnson shares.

For more information or for a list of shops participating this holiday season, visit the DEGC’s website.


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