Early in my married life my husband and I moved to a neighborhood that is only 1.2% black. I remember being in desperate need of foundation and I stopped by my local drugstore chain only to find that the darkest color they carried was tawny…TAWNY! Sigh…and forget about any ‘ethnic’ hair care products. I left the store feeling discouraged and offended. It made me feel like the 1.2% of black people, living in that area, didn’t matter.
It’s nice to see that there are more options available in national chain stores. I don’t have to search AS hard (but, trust, the struggle is still real). Major manufacturers are getting the picture, we spend money. Lot’s of it! According to a 2016 Nielson study, “African-American households spend more on basic food ingredients and beverages…other popular buying categories include fragrances, personal health and beauty products, as well as family planning, household care and cleaning products.”
Wouldn’t it be a great thing to channel that spending into a locally, black-owned business? Where the products are made by us, for us? This is one of the reasons that B.A.M purposes to empower Black-owned business. We yield tremendous buying power, but even with this impressive buying power advertisers are still not inclusive in marketing and media – yet we continue to patronize these brands. What’s up with that?
Back to the local drugstore. It’s important to me as a consumer to have convenience. We live in a “microwave society”. We want things quick, fast and in a hurry. Consumers, we need to support our Black-owned businesses so that they can become more convenient to us. Within reach. I don’t want to HAVE to leave my neighborhood to support a Black-owned business, my dream is for there to be one (or more) there.
I’ve mentioned beauty products, but the reality is there is a lack of ‘black’ in so many areas of consumer and retail goods. As mom of a Brown Ballerina, we STRUGGLE to find “nude” leotards. Most of the time we end of having to dye them to match her complexion. Why isn’t there a dance store that offers items that cater to the Brown dancer? Why does the oil sheen container have to rest on the bottom shelf of the local store? Why is it usually covered in dust? Why do I have to go to a specialty store to purchase foundation for my deep chocolate skin?
I know that by empowering our Black-owned businesses the generations to come won’t have to ask these questions. They won’t know the struggle of not finding foundation, hair moisturizer and Shea butter at the local drug store. Of wiping the dusty box off and hoping that the product isn’t expired. I hope, one day, to be able to say to my grandchildren “When I was your age, I had to walk to six different stores, up hill, in the snow to find moisturizer…” Tee Hee.
Until next time.