‘Real Black Friday’ offers chance to shop small, support local businesses ahead of Small Business Saturday

JACKSONVILLE, Fla – More than 166 million people will shop over the holiday weekend.

Shoppers will spend billions at the big box stores, but it’s also important to remember the little guys. That’s the point behind Small Business Saturday.

Small businesses are the backbone of the U.S. economy, providing jobs and unique creations to their communities, which is why so many of them hope you’ll consider staying local while marking names off your shopping list.

But you don’t have to wait until Small Business Saturday to shop local.

More than 120 Black-owned businesses will set up along A. Phillip Randolph Boulevard from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday for The Melanin Market’s “Real Black Friday” event on the Eastside.

Melanin Market opens "Real Black Friday" event to encourage shoppers to shop small. (WJXT)

Organizer Anita Spencer said for many of these entrepreneurs this event is the stepping stone for future success.

“People have come out over the years and made contacts and now they have brick-and-mortar businesses or food trucks or different things like that,” Spencer said.

This is the sixth time the Melanin Market has hosted the Black Friday pop-up shop, which also featured music and food.

The mission is to showcase Black-owned businesses, artists, nonprofits and performers. The founders wanted to create a safe and family friendly environment for underrepresented communities to expand their networks.

Ronda Kent-Cummings owns two businesses that were at the pop-up. Bracelets Baby, which included different kinds of bracelets for adults and children, and Family Nut Hut, which sells cinnamon and sugar roasted nuts and popcorn.

She said she enjoys coming to local events like the Melanin Market to showcase her businesses.

“I love being a part of the community. My husband grew up on this side of town, so it’s really important to us to go out, get our business supported and support others,” Kent-Cummings said. “We have four kids at home, so you’re supporting their education, their future, their financial stability, along with many, many others, so it has a direct impact on our community.”

There’s also an event happening in Downtown Jacksonville on Saturday to encourage shoppers to patronize small, local businesses.

A scavenger hunt is being held for anyone who heads downtown -- and there are prizes.

RELATED: Support small businesses in Downtown Jacksonville this Saturday with QR code scavenger hunt

All you have to do is download the Eventzee app, create an account with a valid email address and then hunt for QR Codes at the participating shops and scan them. Purchase is not required to play.

The first 100 people to scan five codes will get a $20 gift card. Anyone who scans a code will also be entered for a chance to win a $100 e-gift card.