Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Look What Just Popped Up

"As efforts to promote black businesses rise, so do growing pains" by Janelle Nanos Globe Staff  April 30, 2018

Kai Grant had every reason to be riding high. Her venture, Black Market, a Roxbury pop-up for black business owners, was a smashing success in its inaugural year, hosting 150 entrepreneurs, and the recent opening of the second season drew hordes of customers, but the market’s return was marred by controversy after one of the vendors from its first year decided to open a market in the Seaport, which Boston magazine mistakenly heralded in a headline as the city’s first black-owned pop-up.

This new market, which will launch inside District Hall on May 19 and is scheduled to run monthly throughout the year, has prompted conversations about the role that such marketplaces can and should play in Boston’s economy. Grant said she has plans to expand her market to other parts of the city, and was angry that the women running the Seaport market didn’t collaborate with her.

This isn’t the first time the city has witnessed a schism between markets: The organizers of the SoWa Open Market and the South End Open Market operated rival events and entered into a legal battle before the South End Open Market ceased operations last year, but factoring race into the discussion has complicated the current conversation, both for the markets’ founders and the vendors they’re both angling to support.

In an open letter on Facebook, Grant said the article’s misleading headline was a “slap in the face” that undermined her efforts to bring economic development to Dudley Square’s struggling commercial district (the headline has since been changed).

She and her husband, Christopher Grant, opened Black Market with a mission to eradicate the $247,500 wealth gap between black and white Bostonians that was identified in “The Color of Wealth in Boston,” a 2015 report by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Duke University, and the New School.

The market’s goal, Grant said, is to fill a void left behind by A Nubian Notion, the longtime importer of African goods in Dudley Square that closed in 2016.....