Vendor market to celebrate, promote local Black businesses

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August is National Black Business Month, and the Lawrence community is invited to celebrate its Black businesses during a vendor market.

Black:30’s Black Business Market on Friday will feature more than 35 vendors — all local Black businesses owners. The celebration, including food and music, will highlight the wide range of Black-owned businesses that help make Lawrence flow.

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“This is for us and to share who we are — who our businesses are — and to let the community know that whether it is within these 31 days or outside of the 31 days, we want you to buy from these businesses and we want you to know who they are,” said Taylor Overton, president of Black:30. “We are here. We are valid.”

Overton and her longtime friend Devanté Green, both of Lawrence, launched Black:30 in May with the goal of uplifting Black and Brown entrepreneurs in the community. With this month recognizing Black business owners, the organization felt it was the perfect time to host a community event centered around them.

Molly Adams / Lawrence Times Black:30 President Taylor Overton (left) and Executive Director Devanté Green are pictured at their organization’s networking mixer on June 30, 2023.

The event was previously set to be a street vendor market, but because of extreme heat in the weather forecast, the event has been moved indoors to the Lied Center in Lawrence, Overton said. There will still be plenty of space to socialize and freely shop vendor stations.

Live musical performances and dancing are sure to keep the evening lively, Overton said. Shelby Winfrey, a Kansas City singer, is set to perform. Top City Steppers, based out of Topeka, will be leading participants in two-step lessons. 

Food trucks and stations will have barbecue food, lemonade, daiquiris and more for sale. In addition to vendors who will be present selling their products, business cards of local Black businesses that provide services will be posted to a wall for people to take.

The Black Business Market will be Black:30’s first event of its kind, and something new for Lawrence. Mayor Lisa Larsen during the Aug. 15 Lawrence City Commission meeting proclaimed the week of Aug. 20 to 26 “Black Business Awareness Week” in town.

Black:30 helped by funneling bits of research into the language of the city’s proclamation. That local recognition highlights the contributions Black entrepreneurs make in Lawrence, despite disparities between Black and white Americans in starting and growing businesses.

“Essentially, we wanted to have a dedicated week to make sure that our businesses know that they’re invested in and that we just really prioritize our Black businesses and patronize our Black businesses the entire week long,” Overton said.

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Black:30 wanted the Black Business Market to be an accessible event to all business owners interested in participating. Vendors will be provided with tables and chairs for free so that they don’t have to supply their own. They’ll also have access to a stash of chalkboards, stands and other resources to help elevate their stations.

The Black Business Market is scheduled for 5 to 10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 25 at the Lied Center, 1600 Stewart Drive. All ages are welcome, and admission to the event is free.

The market is also in conjunction with downtown Lawrence’s Final Fridays, when art displays and events are highlighted on the last Friday of every month.

Black business owners who are still interested in vending at the event can register via this Google form or email questions to Overton at Taylor@black30.org. Community members interested in donating to the organization’s efforts can do so via PayPal

Visit Black:30’s website, black30.org, to learn more about the organization, and visit the Black Business Market’s Facebook event page for updates.

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Maya Hodison (she/her), equity reporter, can be reached at mhodison (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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