Melanin Market Places Black Entrepreneurship at the Forefront of Urban Community’s Needs

With the success of their annual Juneteenth event, the Melanin Market blocked off Soutel Rd., near the Legends Center for their ‘Northside Love’ community block festival.

This new event took place this weekend on Jacksonville’s Northside for an arts and vendors market seeking to build bridges in the community. As the day turned into a scorcher, business owners held court inside their tents selling their wares, homemade brews and confections.

On the main stage contestants were judged in a poetry contest, with local entertainers sharing their best renditions of jazz, R&B, gospel and hip hop.  Thousands of attendees had the opportunity to register to vote, meet candidates and elected officials.

The Melanin Market began as a pathway to the products and services of minority-owned businesses and is now a location for community investment and a safe space for families to enjoy dynamic cultures and minority owned entrepreneurial platforms.

During the first year of the pandemic and amid protests for racial justice following the murder of George Floyd, tech companies such as Google, Yelp and DoorDash started “Black-owned” labeling campaigns to encourage customer support for restaurants and other businesses.

But new research, using cellphone location data, shows that visits to restaurants that identify as Black-owned, compared to those without a label, dropped off after some initial spikes and were inconsistent across the country

All is not lost at the popularity and support of black-owned businesses.  While the pandemic has disproportionately hurt preexisting Black businesses – who face steeper declines in sales and a harder time accessing capital than their white counterparts – it has also spurred the creation of new Black firms.

Events such as the melanin Market continue to educate and enlighten communities to grass-roots business made for them – by them. “This has been great serving a three fold purpose of entertainment and fellowship while meeting my consumer needs, it remains a gem in our own backyard,” said attendee Theresa Jones.

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