The holiday shopping season has arrived, ushered in by big box discounts starting as early as Thanksgiving night. Really, what says “family and friends” like leaving your dinner table to shop with complete strangers?
According to the National Retail Federation an estimated 69 percent of Americans are planning on doing just that. With a mix of special online deals, in store offers and limited time specials it can be hard to resist the rush of standing in line at 5 a.m. for the perfect gift and for some, that’s part of the fun.
For this reporter, and 112 million other Americans, the fun doesn’t start until Small Business Saturday. This year Open Mic Rochester is highlighting local black businesses you can visit on Small Business Saturday and offering tips on shopping small this holiday season.
Created by American Express and celebrated November 25, Small Business Saturday is an opportunity to shop at local small businesses. It’s also an opportunity to skip the crowds for a more pleasant shopping experience and for black shoppers wielding an estimated $1.3 trillion dollars’ in buying power, shopping small can have added benefits.
Small businesses regularly contribute more to their communities than national retailers. Approximately $68 dollars of every $100 spent stays in the local economy, according to a CES Michigan study. Local companies also account for the majority of non-profit donations and jobs.
Local clothing and gift shop Mansa Wear is located at 367 Park Avenue and owned by Nita Brown. Dedicated to combining traditional african clothing with typical american style, Brown has created a unique clothing store that allows shoppers to play a role in the fabrication of their clothes.
“That’s what we wear in Ghana… I modified it. I looked at my wardrobe here and as the season(s) changed modified with either boots, a shrug, a sweater,” said Brown. Her blended style caught the attention of people she knew and eventually lead to her opening her own business.
A small storefront is all she says she needs. At Mansa Wear, you can touch fabrics, see samples of designs and even purchase off the rack if it’s available. Once you select the design and patterns, Brown has it manufactured in Ghana and delivers a one of a kind piece to your door.
With a 28-day turn around, you have just enough time to get an order in before Christmas but if you’re looking for something special now, Mansa Wear features great gifts as well. Stuff stockings with her hand made earrings, necklaces, handbags and gift certificates.
Looking for apparel with an urban edge? Check out designers like 4lifesupply who’s in-demand streetwear is now available at YM Touch Inc. on 1366 Lyell Ave. Rochester and online at 4lifesupply.com. Designer David Gary’s collections include men’s and women’s clothing and accessories. There is also books at black-owned Mood Makers in Village Gate for the bookworm in your life or give the little girl in your life ballet classes and knowledge of her history with Ballet Afrikana.
For Kecia Brumfield getting healthy wasn’t an option. After a cancer scare early in life, she decided to give better eating habits and exercise a try. Her hard work paid off, she was cancer free and was feeling better.
“My knees felt better, my back felt better I had so much energy,” said Brumfield whose success lead to opening Fit for You, a meal preparation and planning service.
Brumfield takes her knowledge of healthy eating and desire for success right into people’s homes. She purges bad foods from cupboards and refrigerators and helps clients replace them with healthy choices. She also cooks meals for her clients either in their home or delivers them to your door.
“I will even go grocery shopping with someone if they need it,” she said.
Physical activity in the United States has increased, 17 percent among women and 18 percent with men according to a study by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). This means health and wellness are on the minds of many, especially after the holidays have passed. Gyms and workout centers report an annual spike in memberships around New Year’s as people set resolutions and want to lose holiday calories.
Brumfield also works with her brother training and mentoring students athletes in football.. Changing the Community (ctc) operates at 121 Lincoln Avenue and more information can be found at www.ctc4change.com.
A 2016 ING study found that 70% of Americans believe Christmas is too focused on spending, but we’re expected to spend even more this year than before. Spend less time shopping all together and more time and money on what matters.
The Rochester Boys and Girls Club, located at 500 Genesee street has seen hardships but, has stayed focused on its mission.
“To inspire and enable young people of all backgrounds to realize their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens,” says the organization’s website.
Each year the Boys and Girls Club and other area charities, accept unwrapped new gifts to be distributed to local families in need. Call or bring your donation to make a difference in the lives of Rochester youth. There are also funds to target housing, food insecurity and mass incarceration. Give to the cash bail fund, or offer rides for those with court dates. There are a ton of ways to give back this season.