Local website boosts visibility of Black-owned businesses
We Buy Black gives minority-owned small businesses the opportunity to showcase and sell their products just in time for the holidays.
With shopping for the holidays in full swing, some are considering buying from small businesses, especially those that are Black-owned, instead of big box stores. It can be difficult, though, to know which retailers to support.
E-commerce website We Buy Black aims to make supporting Black-owned businesses easier. They sell products created and developed by only African Americans and people of African descent.
On We Buy Black virtual shoppers have access to more than 100,000 products sold by over 12,000 Black-owned businesses. From toothbrushes to hair care and even light bulbs, the College Park-based website offers alternatives to products that you would find at your local supermarket.
Its founder, Shareef Abdul-Malik, suggests customers new to the site, start by buying the “Make the Switch” kit, which gives them roughly six products that could replace their everyday products at home.
“The kit allows people to get an idea of the various things Black people are making,” said Abdul-Malik. And now is a great time to make the switch.
“November, December, January and February is a great time for our businesses,” Abdul-Malik said. “November, of course, is the season you roll them into the holiday season and a lot of people are starting to think, ‘how can I support Black businesses?’”
And support for Black-owned businesses isn’t just a local affair. In addition to the 96 percent of domestic consumers, Adbul-Malki said 4 percent of customers who shop on We Buy Black are from across the Atlantic, like the United Kingdom, Sweden and France.
As the demand for social justice for people of color in the U.S. escalated last year, consumers and retailers wanted to use their spending power as leverage to make their voices heard. And that voice is a powerful one.
Blacks make up for 13 percent of the U.S. population and research company Nielsen reported they had $1.3 trillion in spending power in 2018. This figure has increased114 percent since 2000.
Understanding the power of Black shoppers, large companies have courted this population by promoting Black-owned businesses. Abdul-Malik however, feels that their efforts are too little, too late.
“The opportunity for companies like Meta, Amazon, Wal-Mart, and Etsy,” said Abdul-Malik, “pretty much act like the leader of the movement doesn’t exist. It is to hijack the movement altogether.”
Abdul-Malik designed We Buy Black’s website similar to Amazon’s business model of having vendors sell on their site for a small commission.
“I pattered our model off of that model but it would be Amazon that’s promoting Black-owned products. Now they’re doing it, they have a section for Black-owned businesses but that wasn’t what they were doing for us at all,” said Abdul-Malik.
Although Abdul-Malik is happy with the progress We Buy Black has made, he knows there are a lot more businesses that he could be helping.
“We have a lot of us that are entrepreneurs and because of the pandemic, many of us are becoming entrepreneurs but platforms like ours should be doing a lot, doing much more. If we made 13 percent of the population — an estimated 50 million people — if one percent of us was selling on the platform, that’s 500,000 people, so we still have a long way to go,” said Abdul-Malik.
We Buy Black is accepting new businesses to sell on their platform. For more information, click the Start Selling icon at the top of the homepage.