Prior to COVID, the Buy Black Empowerment Initiative of Kansas City’s Black United Front was really active with regular Buy Black flash markets designed to help grow Black businesses and increase the circulation of money within the Black community to encourage Black economic empowerment. Like with so many things our communities grew accustomed to enjoying and supporting, these vendor fairs had been put on hold. Not an organization to be held down, the Buy Black Empowerment Initiative is back stronger and better, with a new website that offers even more opportunities for individuals to find and support Black businesses.

Great news for Black businesses and Black shoppers, the new technology is allowing the Initiative to retool their popular annual Thanksgiving weekend Buy Black Weekend Vendor Fair into an online QVC-style shopping fair.

The Buy Black Weekend Event on Fri., Nov. 27, and Sat., Nov. 28, will be live on the Buy Black Empowerment Initiatives Facebook page (www.facebook.com/BuyBlackEmpowermentInitiative) during the day, from about 10 a.m. – 8 p.m., with vendors showcasing their products to buy QVC-style in short 10-minute segments. If you see something you like, you can go straight to the vendor’s site to purchase it. There will also be entertainment, interviews and lots of things to help keep shoppers engaged throughout the day.

After the live programming, a recorded playback of the day’s activities will run in a continuous loop. So, if you can’t join during the day, or if you’re in and out during the day, just check back in, you’ll be surprised what great items you might find. The recording will also be posted on the Buy Black Empowerment YouTube channel.

24/7 New Technology

Beyond the Buy Black Weekend event, at the core of the new BBEI technology is their new app and website. This technology takes the Initiative beyond the periodic flash markets and buying events by establishing an online Black Business Directory, as well as an online virtual marketplace.

“I’m really excited because now, rather than just three or four times a year, we’ve got it set up for our vendors to have visibility 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days per years,” said Kathy Persley, one of the Initiative’s organizers. “Whether it’s a service business or a retail sales business, they can have an online presence.”

All businesses are encouraged to register their business in the online directory on BuyBlackKC.org. Registration is free. Each vendor will be able to set up their own online shop/marketplace with photos of their items and sat their own items. This is particularly helpful for small vendors who don’t already have an established ecommerce site. Those with their own sites can link the vendor page to their existing site. The site can even handle payment processing – the site currently uses PayPal – but they anticipate adding Venmo and Cash App soon.

Listings in the directory and establishing an online shop/marketplace is free for vendors. However, if goods are sold on the site, BBEI charges a nominal 2% fee. That fee helps fund the site and provides them funding to help market the site.

Establishing a good vendor as well as a good customer experience was important to Persley and her team.

The market and directory can be accessed on BuyBlackKC.org and there is also a BuyBlackKC app that can be downloaded in either Apple or IOS-compatible format. The user-friendly site and app allow visitors to search by business or vendor name, type, rating, price and even by the latest merchandise added to the page. Items can be purchased online and shipped or, if available, picked up.

“At one time I had a large flea market with multiple vendors,” said Persley. “I wish at the time I’d had something that was even halfway similar to this, it would have made my life so much easier. But here we finally are.”

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