Detroit —More than 60 shoppers boarded two yellow school buses Saturday for a full day of visiting black-owned businesses in downtown Detroit.
The Buy Black tour started at Alkebu-Lan Village cultural arts center on the east side for opening prayer the buses for the free tour.
"I prefer to buy and support black-owned businesses and I joined to find out where they are," said Tiffiny Jones, 26. "Today is a good learning experience."
One of the tour organizers, former Detroit City Council member JoAnn Watson said the day was inspired by the men who attended the Million Man March 22 years ago in Washington D.C. One of those men was Mike Anderson, 69, of Detroit.
"Seeing how many people showed up was the best part of the day," Anderson said. "It's always a little nerve wrecking to see if it will be a good turn out and it is."
Their first stop was Hot Sam’s, a men’s clothing store on Monroe, before making their way over to Painting with a Twist on Washington Boulevard.
Painting with a Twist originated in New Orleans, which is where Michelle Lewis, a native Detroiter, noticed the company and brought the franchise back home. She started the first studio in Ferndale on W. Nine Mile and her sister, Donna Lewis, opened the Detroit location two years ago. The franchise now has 15 locations in Michigan.
"Most people are shocked to find out that we're black-owned," said Donna Lewis, owner of Detroit's Painting with a Twist. "There are a lot of businesses that are more white-owned in the city, but it's important to have a presence in a city that's predominantly black."
The group also visited the Black Dress Boutique, Detroit Vs. Everybody, Woodhouse Spa, Source Bookseller, N’Namdi’s Contemporary Art, Bob’s Classic Kicks, Bert’s in Eastern Market, Livernois and 7 Mile Avenue of Fashion.
They ate at the Seafood Market Restaurant on Randolph and toured Paradise Valley/African Town and Detroit Vegan Soul in West Village
Watson said she and the Million Man March Association of Detroit are planning future bus tours.