NORFOLK, Va. - As many small businesses struggle to survive during the COVID-19 pandemic, Selden Market in downtown Norfolk is helping to ensure their success. A new monthly event, “Black Matters,” kicks off Saturday to help support Black-owned businesses.
Owner of Sugar & Grace, Erica Parham said because of the color of her skin, starting her candle business two and a half years ago didn’t come without some challenges.
“I have faced stereotypes within my business,” she said. “People are sometimes shocked that you own this business.”
Selden Market, a retail hub in downtown Norfolk, is working to break down those stereotypes and shine a light on Black-owned businesses.
Starting Saturday afternoon – and once a month after that – shoppers will be invited to celebrate and support several minority-owned businesses in a new event called Black Matters.
“Some of the businesses, you may not know about, but if you come tomorrow you get to see them and support them, learn about their brand,” said Parham. “It’s just important to invest in us.”
Norfolk resident Cydnei Miller and her friend Jared stopped in the shop to make a candle in celebration of her 22nd birthday a couple days ago. She plans to be back for the event Saturday to help uplift and empower Black communities.
“With everything going on, it shows that you appreciate those Black businesses as well as people who own those businesses,” said Miller. “It’s just a way to make sure that everyone gets the same support as a whole.”
The Black Matters event was sparked by recent protests that galvanized communities from every corner of the country, bringing the issue of racism to the forefront.
“We want to keep the conversation going,” Parham said.
Parham, who just moved into Selden Market on June 10, said diversity in the community is key to understanding one another, and showing support for different backgrounds will help everyone succeed.
“It’s a celebration for us tomorrow,” she said.
The event runs from noon to 3 p.m. There will also be a panel discussion and a voter registration booth.
Additionally, there will be an opportunity for small business owners to have their business applications reviewed. A Selden Market committee member will offer advice on how to bring the business to Selden Market.
The event will be operating under social distancing measures. Face masks are required.
The next Black Matters even will be held sometime in August.