Taking place at 623 Smithfield St. from Fri., Dec. 4-Sun., Dec. 6, the Black Market — which also operated on Thanksgiving weekend — features a variety of Black-owned small businesses selling hand-poured candles, food, clothing and jewelry, personal care items, and more. In total, the event showcases 70 local Black business owners over the course of two weekends.
The event was created by the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership and Shayla Hawkins Events, a local wedding planning company owned and operated by Black women.
“With the current climate, it is so imperative that our city shows solidarity and pushes for more support of Black business owners,” reads a statement on the PDP website from Shayla Hawkins, who runs the business with partner Alexis Allen.
She adds that her company introduced the first Black Market this past summer when the #ShopBlack campaign was taking over social media.
“Shayla is actually the brainchild for Black Market,” says PDP CEO and president, Jeremy Waldrup. “We saw her successfully do this earlier in the year and reached out to see if she would work with us to produce the event in Downtown Pittsburgh this holiday season.”
He adds that the event also addresses PDP wanting to see better representation of Black-owned businesses in Downtown and in the region.
“This opportunity seemed like a great way to further both of these goals,” says Waldrup.
He says PDP also felt a sense of urgency to help the local community of Black entrepreneurs in light of the current health crisis, adding that “Black businesses face many challenges and simply are not supported enough.”
“Small businesses and our Black community have both been severely impacted by COVID-19, so using our organization’s platform to elevate Black-owned businesses specifically, and broaden their customer base, is hopefully something that supports their business efforts in both the long and short term,” says Waldrup.
Still, PDP understands that people are still hesitant about shopping in person, as the region has seen a startling rise in COVID-19 cases and deaths over the past month. In addition to the Black Market, Downtown still has the annual outdoor Peoples Gas Holiday Market in Market Square, which will remain up through Dec. 23. Both events are requiring that vendors and patrons wear a mask at all times and that everyone adhere to the six-foot social distancing guidelines. Limited capacity will also be enforced when necessary.
“The community is looking for safer holiday experiences and opportunities to support small business Downtown during the holidays, and this event, along with many other pop-ups and attractions we have implemented this season, accomplish that,” says Waldrup. “Having an online shopping platform is also not a viable solution for every business, so they need alternatives to connect and build new relationships with customers.”
He says that the first Black Market was a “resounding success,” and hopes to continue hosting similar events in the future.
“Our hope is that we can show these business owners that there is a viable market for their business Downtown and that they will consider a permanent home in this community,” says Waldrup. “We have been working diligently to provide more access to our events for minority-owned businesses, and we will be continuing to expand these efforts over the coming years.”
Black Market: Holiday Edition. 11 a.m. - 7 p.m. Fri., Dec. 4-Sun., Dec. 6. 623 Smithfield St., Downtown. downtownpittsburghholidays.com/blackmarket