After a successful opening at the end of last month, the New Black Wall Street Market in Stonecrest aims to expand its hours and continue holding attention-grabbing events.
The marketplace is named after the business district in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that was the site of a racist massacre a century ago. Philanthropist and businessman Lecester “Bill” Allen, the project’s owner and developer, said the market is designed to help Black and minority entrepreneurs flourish.
Matt Hampton, Allen’s spokesman, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that more than 10,000 people attended the market’s soft opening during Halloween weekend. A grand opening, dubbed the “Blackest Black Friday Ever” is planned for the weekend after Thanksgiving, and Hampton said the market will expand its days of operation due to the concept’s initial success.
“The substance of the ‘blackest Black Friday Ever’ is to challenge the country to see how many Black businesses we can take into the black (make profitable) on Black Friday,” Hampton said.
The market, located at 8109 Mall Parkway, is currently open on Fridays and weekends from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Given the large turnout so far, Hampton said they’re expanding business hours after Black Friday. Normal hours will become Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The 125,000-square foot retail space is 70% leased to businesses, and it has space for up to 118 vendors. Jasmin Shontay Long, owner of The Style Muse Bartique, said the market’s opening day was the best day for business she’s ever had. Her women’s clothing store brought in five figures.
“A $10,000 day for me is out of this world,” she said. “It was an amazing, amazing day.”
Credit: Jasmin Shontay Long
Credit: Jasmin Shontay Long
Long, who is from Dallas, Ga., revamped her business this past summer. After securing a space within the market, she was able to quit her day job to fully pursue being an entrepreneur. She also hired three employees to help operate her store, which she described as a retail clothing store with a lounge-type setting.
Jean Kimpson, owner of The Business Store, was born and raised in south DeKalb County, and she said she jumped at the opportunity to participate in this market concept. Her store offers business services and classes to striving entrepreneurs, and she sometimes works with Hampton to offer business advice to the other small businesses in the market.
“You can feel the whole atmosphere within the New Black Wall Street Market,” Kimpson said. “This is something special, this is something that will cultivate businesses for years and years.”
Hampton said 5,000 people came to the market this past weekend, so he’s hoping that momentum will continue throughout November and into the holiday season. He said the market still needs logistical improvements, including getting every participating business online for e-commerce orders and finishing the market’s food suites — some businesses are currently selling their wares via pop-up tents until the suites are finished.
Hampton said business owners continue to apply for the remaining open spaces.
“The job we’re doing now is pretty much turning down more people than we’re accepting at this point. We have the ability to fill it up, but we’re trying to keep a good balance (of products),” he said. He added that they currently have a waitlist for businesses offering women’s clothing, urban clothing, body butters, lotions and candles, since they already have vendors offering those products.
The market joins SeaQuest at Stonecrest, a land and sea aquarium in The Mall at Stonecrest, as new attractions to come to the city, which is roughly 20 miles east of Atlanta. City leaders, residents and business owners said they hope both attractions help attract tourists to Stonecrest.
“I believe that the best is truly yet to come,” Kimpson said.