Black-owned shops showcased on Detroit's Small Business Saturday

Christine Ferretti
The Detroit News

Detroit — Sydney Kispert-Bostick has been snapping photographs since childhood and took the opportunity Saturday to share her prints on decoupage tiles and coasters at a pop-up shop on the city's Avenue of Fashion.

The freelance photographer and owner of woodstockRd was one of six vendors to showcase their work inside Good Cakes & Bakes on Livernois as part of an inaugural Black Business Crawl on Small Business Saturday.

"We have so many great small businesses that are black-owned, women-owned," said Kispert-Bostick, 29, who lives in the Detroit neighborhood. "It's really important for people to come out and support us."

Dwight Jackson, of Stanford, Conn., shops at the booth of woodstockRd owner Sydney Kispert-Bostick, right, of Highland Park.

The crawl, hosted by Detroit’s Civil Rights, Inclusion, and Opportunity Department and the Detroit Branch of the NAACP, is aiming to "support and uplift" black entrepreneurs from across the city, Charity Dean, the city's civil rights office director, said in a released statement.

The event, which also is being put on in partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration, Detroit Economic Growth Corp. and Lambda Pi Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., featured a free customer appreciation breakfast and  a vendor market until 8 p.m. inside Good Cakes and Bakes on Livernois.

A number of businesses in the city's Grandmont Rosedale neighborhood on the northwest side, New Center area and West Village and among the other spots participating. 

"This event highlights the city’s commitment to ensuring that black businesses continue to thrive and grow, not only during the holiday season, but beyond," Dean said. 

Good Cakes & Bakes owner April Anderson opened her storefront six years ago and said she's hosted local online and pop-up vendors inside her shop on Small Business Saturday from the beginning to give them opportunities to test the market.

The attention on the avenue comes at a time when many of its shop owners have struggled amid a $17 million construction project to widen sidewalks, add bike lanes and improve a 1.5-mile section of the roadway on Livernois that began in the spring. The effort, which was supposed to have wrapped up in mid-November, made navigating the district challenging and limited parking.

Anderson said efforts have been made to restore sidewalk space and parking to aid the shops.

"Since this has happened, the city has stepped up and tried to help," she said, noting staff from various departments have been coming over since September to shop the avenue.

Saturday's focus is a launching point, but ongoing support for the city's local businesses is critical to their survival, Anderson noted. 

"One day is a great start," Anderson said of the business crawl, but people must keep in mind that small businesses are the community. "Those are the businesses that you really need to support so you have these different types and diverse options in your neighborhood. If you don't support the small businesses then they aren't going to be here."

The national Small Business Saturday movement began in 2010 and is held each year between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, encouraging shoppers to support small businesses in their communities.

In 2018, reported spending on Small Business Saturday among U.S. consumers at independent retailers and restaurants reached a record high of an estimated $17.8 billion, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

In Detroit, locations participating in the Saturday crawl will be offering a variety of special promotions and discounts.

Small Business Administration Michigan District Director Constance Logan said communities prosper when their small businesses do well.

“Along with this Black Business Crawl, we’re encouraging Small Business Saturday participation throughout the state with special stops here in Midtown and out in rural Marlette," Logan added. "No matter where you are, when you support small businesses, you’re also supporting job creation, innovation and the backbone of our economy.”

Besides Good Cakes & Bakes, the city noted that patrons can stop into the Northwest Gallery of Art in the city's Grandmont Rosedale area, 19556 Grand River Avenue, or the Ten Nail Bar's New Center location, 6541 Woodward Avenue, to pick up a map and the names of the two dozen businesses.

Events at the art gallery conclude at 5 p.m. and the nail bar's promotions run through 6 p.m., according to the event posting. 

Participating shops include: 

  • Northwest Gallery of Art
  • Good Cakes & Bake
  • Ten Nail Bar
  • Cutz Lounge
  • Detroit Vegan Soul
  • Digimax
  • Voluptuous Bien'Aime Boutique
  • Central Bar + Kitchen
  • City Wings
  • Good Times on the Ave
  • Bakers Keyboard Lounge
  • African Fabrics & Fashion
  • Simply Casual
  • Table No.2
  • The Turkey Grill   
  •  Yum Village
  •  Dilla's Delights

The Detroit Department of Transportation is providing free bus rides from any of its 42 bus routes during the day-long event to support the city's small businesses. 

Stephanie Whitfield of Salikas' Jewels has featured handmade jewelry, including her signature laser-cut old English D earrings, for years at pop-ups throughout the city and regularly in Eastern Market.

Saturday marked her sixth year participating in the small business event on Livernois and said it's an opportunity to show off all of the local talent here. 

"Detroit has become a mecca in the last five years or so with artists and others wanting to come to here," she Whitfield, 60. "People talk about when we were in bankruptcy and then rebounding. I know we were in bankruptcy but I never felt that Detroit really went anywhere." 

Bridget Tedford grew up a block off the Livernois shopping district and stopped in at the vendor market Saturday to sample treats and pick up some gifts for family. 

"When I was little, this was the Avenue of Fashion," said Tedford, who now lives in Redford Township. "Just to see that it's been revitalized, whatever I can do to support it, I'm here."