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Virtually shopping ‘Black’ on Juneteenth

Black Restaurant Week 2020 the second week in March was on track to generate tens of thousands of dollars for African-American eateries.

But a global helping of COVID-19 thwarted the fifth annual event. In a matter of days, life and dining changed.

“…we are not powerless to rebuild wealth in our community and leave it to our children.” — Cynthia Daniels (Courtesy photo)

Cynthia Daniels & Co. is a premiere event planner behind some of the city’s most highly anticipated annual events: Black Bridal Expo, Black Restaurant Week, Soul Food Truck Festival and Black Christmas Expo.

To those, add the biggest, most ambitious effort on Friday, June 19, this year: The Juneteenth Shop Black Virtual Experience.

“The truth is that COVID-19 forced me to broaden my borders,” said Daniels. “The financial fallout has been devastating for black businesses, for all businesses. But we are not powerless to rebuild wealth in our community and leave it to our children.”

Daniels said turning the dollar over and over in the African-American community will keep “our businesses” prospering and growing. She promotes a conscientious intent on the part of “black consumers” to spend money with African Americans and choose to “buy black.”

Daniels was weeks away from June 19, lamenting that she could not travel to visit her mother in Atlanta for Mother’s Day. The pandemic had limited movement, not only locally, but across the country. She got an idea.

“I thought, ‘Why don’t I just go online and buy Mother some gifts I know she would like,’” Daniels said. “And that’s just what I did and posted her local purchases online. The photos went viral, and people in Memphis were thanking me for spotlighting businesses they didn’t even know were here.”

Daniels got to thinking. What if there was an event or occasion for “black businesses” to sale their wares online to anyone? What if there was a day that invited shoppers to purposely buy from black vendors and business owners? And that was the beginning of The Juneteenth Shop Black Virtual Experience.

“My heart goes out to restaurant owners and other business people who have been unable to open back up,” said Daniels. “But 100 businesses, which have kept their doors open, can benefit if we all shop black on Juneteenth, not just for the day, but beyond this inaugural event.”

Shoppers will be able to go to the website: cdcoevents.com and access a portal on the Zoom platform, which will open that Friday at noon.

A virtual buying experience with restaurants, men’s apparel shops, women’s boutique, hair and beauty proprietors, and other enterprises, will be possible.

Daniels set her sights on recruiting 50 businesses. One hundred vendors are actually participating. Fifty of them are local, including restaurants that faced disappointment when COVID-19 halted this year’s Black Restaurant Week.

“This Juneteenth shopping day is very important to us,” said Tamra Patterson, “Chef Tam” of The Underground Café. “When the coronavirus hit, we had to lay off 38 employees. That broke my heart. We went into take-out mode, and we’ve just opened the dining room Tuesday of this week. I am looking forward to Juneteenth shopping.”

Seeing the event grow beyond the borders of Memphis and attracting the interest of businesses in other major cities was empowering for Daniels.

“I set out to recruit 50 local businesses, and that went viral, too,” said Daniels. “Other business people want to get in front of as many buyers as possible. So, I started getting inquiries from 20 other cities, including Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, New York and Los Angeles.

Businesses in Vancouver, Canada, and St. Croix, Virgin Islands are also participating.”

Charisse Barnes-Ferraro of The Cayged Collection in Atlanta. (Courtesy photo)

Charisse Barnes-Ferraro is excited her “Afrocentric” accessory shop in Atlanta is on board for Juneteenth.

“I was a teacher for 16 years,” said Barnes-Ferraro. “But I started my shop, The Cayged Collection, after a lot of research and prayer. I was a part of the Black Christmas Expo with Cynthia in 2019. I know this is going to be phenomenal.”

Daniels hopes this shopping day will empower “the whole community”.

“While we certainly invite other consumers to be a part of this day, I believe we have enough buying power in our own community to see our own businesses grow and be sustained by us,” Daniels said. “We must support our own, even after the 19th.”

The list of local businesses includes Bubble Bistro, Phillip Ashley Chocolates, September Nail Salon, Henry Masks and Chef Tam’s Soul Food Superstore.

More information on Juneteenth Shop Black Virtual Experience is available at: www.cdcoevents.com.


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