Buy Black: Holiday Downtown Detroit Markets Are the Gift That Keeps on Giving  

Photo: Getty Images

 

Holiday shopping is a festive experience all in itself.  

Winter-wonderland-themed stores bring nostalgia, memories, and a hope-fueled holiday season to mind as consumers bustle and shop for friends and family.  

Buying Black, however, during the holidays, is a completely different vibe that harkens back to days of old when Black-owned shopkeepers lined main streets and one didn’t have to look too far to find the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick makers good when purposing to fill their cupboards and someone else’s stockings, especially during the holidays.  

What’s old is new again as giving back to one of your own while shopping Black – especially during Christmastime – is made easier than ever now as a myriad of Black businesses are bringing holiday cheer home as part of the Bedrock and the Gilbert Family Foundation’s return of the Downtown Detroit Markets and Cadillac Lodge as well as other winter activities.  

“The biggest thing I can say … is when you buy Black you support a family,” a past vendor told the Michigan Chronicle.  

Now in its sixth year, the Downtown Detroit Markets have supported small businesses that generated millions in overall sales. The Downtown Detroit Markets have seen dozens of small businesses return for multiple seasons, and many have used the opportunity as a launching pad toward a brick-and-mortar storefront.  

Managed in partnership with Bedrock and the Downtown Detroit Partnership, the Downtown Detroit Markets will feature primarily 18 BIPOC or female-owned pop-up vendors. New this year, TechTown partnership to enhance the vendor experience, providing business and mentorship opportunities.  

The Gilbert Family Foundation and Bedrock are also announcing the return of the Cadillac Lodge. A welcome, winter fixture Downtown, the Lodge offers a warm, family-friendly environment for all Detroit residents and visitors, which has treats and drinks available for the whole family.  

In addition to providing space for local entrepreneurs, the Gilbert Family Foundation and Bedrock have partnered with TechTown, Detroit’s entrepreneurship hub, to support the Market vendors with workshops and one-on-one business mentorship.  

“The Gilbert Family Foundation believes in the power of entrepreneurship and public space,” said Laura Grannemann, executive director of the Gilbert Family Foundation in a press release. “The Downtown Detroit Markets are an important opportunity for Detroit entrepreneurs to test new products, gain exposure to new customers, and grow their brands in a beautiful public space that brings everyone together.”  

The Downtown Detroit Markets, managed with support from Bedrock and the Downtown Detroit Partnership, will be open through the end of 2022.  

Now in its fifth year, the Downtown Detroit Markets have offered a launchpad to more than 130 small businesses that have generated nearly $6 million in overall sales. Over the years, nineteen small businesses have taken part in the Markets more than once, and some have gone on to open brick-and-mortar storefronts.  

“Throughout the years, we have been fortunate to help foster the growth of a mix of local businesses at the Markets, and this makes the program truly special. There will be something for everyone to enjoy this season and we are ready for this next round of entrepreneurs to flourish,” Ivy Greaner, Bedrock’s chief operating officer, said.  

Some Downtown Detroit Market Vendors include:  

  • 3 Dogs 1 Cat– An urban pet shoppe that carries an assortment of quality items for both furry friends and their humans.   
  • Estella’s Vegan Dessert Boutique– An all-vegan bakery serving flavorful cookies, cakes, donuts, bread, and a mission to spread a plant-based lifestyle with its many health benefits to all.  
  • Janna Kay– Luxurious charcuterie boxes filled with exceptional ingredients intended to engage with the senses – the collection also includes glassware, loungewear, and other home accessories.  
  • Not Sorry Goods– A sustainable and inclusive retailer that specializes in upcycled clothing and accessories, vintage, unique goods, and gifts from small-batch artists.  
  • Young Socialites Clothier– With confidence-building fashion for all ages, each piece of clothing is designed and manufactured exclusively in-house.  
  • Zapenda– An African-inspired apparel brand with the mission to connect the African diaspora through fashion – clothing, and accessories are made-to-order by expert tailors in the Democratic Republic of Congo using high-quality African wax fabrics.   

Naima Melonson, owner and designer at Young Socialites (YS) Clothier, is looking forward to taking part in the holiday marketplace.   

Over the last 25 years, Melonson has been a well-respected designer, business owner, and more.  

YS Clothier is the first and only African-American Female owned children’s brand in Detroit.  

“I am thrilled to be able to pave new paths and give others a road to success,” she said on her website.  

Melonson told the Michigan Chronicle that this is her first year participating in the holiday market and the synergy is already there.   

“It’s kind of neat that each vendor they sort of are complementary (to each other),” she said of the goods and services being sold. “I love the cohesive lineup.”  

Melonson, a native Detroiter, added that she loves the festive holiday season atmosphere in the city, especially downtown, and the stores only add to that magical element.  

“I think it’s a good look (for) the brand,” she said adding that people should come out and show support and have a good time in the process. “  

For more information visit ysclothier.com.  

Detroit-based Janica Smith, owner of Janna Kay Charcuterie, told the Michigan Chronicle that another entrepreneur told her company about it and encouraged her to apply and she among 17 others were accepted out of 300 different businesses in the metro Detroit area.  

“This was such a blessing,” she said adding that her semi-new business launched just two years ago during the pandemic.  

What began as a girl’s socially-distanced night out (where she prepped individualized charcuterie boxes) for her friends became a business that quickly caught traction by word of mouth.  

“My girlfriend posted pictures on social media and one of her girlfriends ended up inboxing me,” she said adding that her degree in merchandising and having a “well-trained palate” helped her in the successful business. “I took all of my past experiences and the love of noshing and created it.”  

Smith added that she is most excited about being with other vendors.  

“Bedrock did a great job curating this market,” she said adding that it’s not competition but a community. “Every business has their own target client … but you are also able to open up your product line and market (to another segment of the population) that is complementary to one another. “It is like a little family. … everybody is looking out for each other and putting on a great shopping experience for the public.”  

For more information visit www.jannakay.com.  

For additional details including dates and hours of operation, please visit DeckedOutDetroit.com, follow @DeckedOutDetroit, @cadillaclodge, #DowntownDetroitMarkets, #CadillacLodge, and #DeckedOutDetroit.  

  

  

 

 

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